A Look at “Attitudes Toward Giving,” from 1953

This week, my co-workers nudged me to (finally) create a video.

When mulling over topics, I kept coming back to a recent homework assignment with fascinating information on the nonprofit sector – in 1953.

As a part of Library School, I did a brief book review of, Attitudes Toward Giving, by F. Emerson Anderson. Published by the Russell Sage Foundation in 1953, the book was based on an unscientific study of donor motivations. About 380 personal quotes are taken from 91 interviews with folks from various backgrounds, and their thoughts on giving are shared.

Though the work is not conclusive by any means, the exercise was enlightening in the way that looking back almost 60 years is: Perspective. Here’s an attempt to summarize key points. Please forgive the jumpy edits and nerves, I’m still a video newbie:)

In summary, the book wasn’t meant to statistically assess fundraising strategies, but rather to shed light on the motivations of a particular set of donors. The field of study has grown over the years, so we ask, how much of the anecdotal information that rang true in 1953 seems to hold?

  • Donors were generally concerned about administrative overhead costs;
  • Thanking donors in a timely, personal and frugal way was a good thing;
  • Volunteerism was the single clearest indicator of the likelihood of giving;
  • Folks were confused by the number of nonprofits and federated-giving programs;

The 1953 book is not part of the Allen County Public Library, but perhaps you’d prefer something newer?

Check out the Allen County Public Library’s Catalog for books on fundraising to put your selection on hold.

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