Place, Time and Philanthropy

Ever wonder what happened to that person who used to donate to your nonprofit?  Perhaps she moved out of town and found other nonprofits to support. 

The Changing Philanthropy Research Team wants to know what happens to philanthropic activity when people move to a new location.  Their study of long term residents and recent transplants to the Cape Fear area of North Carolina is providing some answers.   

There are three factors that help explain differences in volunteering and donating by short and long term residents, as explained in an article forthcoming in Public Administration Review by the research team. 

One factor is sense of community.  The stronger the sense that one belongs in a community, the more likely one is likely to support the nonprofits active in the community.  When someone moves, they may still feel a sense of responsibility and concern for their old community while bonding to their new one.  Nonprofits are more likely to continue to attract donations from those that have moved away if they continue to help them feel a part of the community.   Universities tend to be great at this.  They host alumni events and have magazines to keep individuals informed and engaged whether or not they stay in the university town.  

Another factor is social networks.  Individuals are unlikely to give unless they are asked.  For new residents, it may take time before they make the connections that lead to invitations to donate time and money to local community organizations.   While there are many pathways to philanthropic engagement, the Changing Philanthropy Research Team found that participation in places of worship is one of the strongest and quickest pathways for new residents.

Regional cultures also make a difference in how quickly and actively new residents get involved with local nonprofits.  Whether a new resident is coming from the Midwest, Northeast or West helps predict how long it takes for them to start giving locally. 

Professor Richard Clerkin will be presenting “Changing Philanthropy: What Influences Donations of Short and Long-term Residents” on Wednesday, November 7, 3:00-4:00 at the NC State University Club in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The event is one of the activities of the Community of Nonprofit Scholars.  For more information, contact the Institute for Nonprofits at NC State University.    

The Changing Philanthropy Research Team is composed of Robert K. Christensen of the University of Georgia formerly UNC-Charlotte, Richard Clerkin of NC State University, Rebecca A. Nesbitt of University of Kansas formerly UNC-Charlotte, Laurie Paarlberg of UNC-Wilmington,  Darlene Rodriguez of Salem College formerly UNC-Greensboro, and Mary Tschirhart of North Carolina State University. 

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