Charitable Behaviour: Calculated or Unjaded

As I look around at the over-crowded car park, I realise that many people of different social backgrounds and classes care about charitable causes. On this occasion we are participating in a fundraising event for the Children’s Cancer Society. To be clear, Sandy Hill Park is a beautiful, eco-friendly piece of paradise with a row of mango trees along its western border, several clumps of bamboo, Columbian Cedar, Caribbean Pine, Poui and Mahogany trees surrounded by a shady grove of Cashew trees but it is located in the country area, hence the fact that a large amount of urban dwellers are at this event is astonishing. 
 This had me pondering the following:

Why are do people give to charity? What is altruism? Why do people scam others?

Survey Says:

Charitable giving

Durkheim stated that people who are more integrated in their groups with specific norms will be more inclined to act according to group norms. Therefore, charitable behaviour is a social action influenced by people’s social environment. For example, when seeing and getting encouragement from others around you to give, an individual is more likely to comply.

Understanding Altruism

The term “altruism” (originated from the Latin term “alter” which means “other”) was coined by Auguste Comte, to describe his ethical doctrine, which he summed up in the phrase: “Live for others”. Altruism is acting through selfless concern for the welfare of others and it promotes cooperation and harmony rather than conflict within communities. However, it isn’t instinctive despite the fact that psychologists believe we’re hard-wired for empathy. Generally, the act of giving without expectations of anything in return is fulfilling.

Creating a Giving State

***The Time-Ask Effect: Priming, this is a situation in which a particular stimulus is applied to the donor; it plants an idea in their mind and the donor may return to it later.

***Cultivating an emotional mindset using perspective where individuals are asked to imagine the feelings of the victim or those in need and as such it generates sympathy and a need on the donor’s part to help alleviate the suffering of others.

***Birds of a feather flock together: People are more likely to help if they perceive similarity on some level. They feel connected by nationality, gender, ethnicity, religion or age group. Therefore details about those who will be benefiting from donations increase a donor’s motivation to help.

***Advocating a cause with a personal connection is more likely to get outsiders to listen, take notice and even be motivated to help. That is overly complicated statistics and numbers attached to a cause reduces the emotional connection and urge to give. People are more likely to lend an ear or shoulder if the person advocating is personally connected to the cause. Additionally, once the advocate’s foot is in the door so to speak, the donor’s continued motivation is consistency of behaviour. That is once they’ve given verbal consent for listening, agreeing to sign a petition or donate, the commitment to follow through is strong.

The aforementioned points are used as tools to exploit people who are willing to give in order that some things change in the affected individuals’ world.

Why do people scam others?

According to the US Federal Trade Commission some ‘charitable’ groups “operate as personal fiefdoms characterised by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation, with none of the financial and governance controls that any bona fide charity would have adopted (Burnett 2017).” These fiends exploit the idea of charity or giving back and manipulate the emotional side of us; conning people. It is distasteful and low but it is done worldwide in one form or another.

Charity is a symptom of the pervasive structure known as Capitalism. Globally, the disparities in wealth is quite evident since 1% of people have most of the wealth on the planet while others are desperate for basic amenities in life and are forced to rely on aid from others. “Under our current global neoliberal model, more and more people are failing to secure financial stability and are in need of charity for survival. Rather than challenging…capitalism that promotes inequality and the need for charity, charitable practices becomes a form of fulfillment, self-deception, or perhaps a tax write-off (Krause 2013).”

Ultimately, a great many charities are responsible and passionate about their purpose. However, donations come from people who give of their hard earned living. Most of us understand that some of the donation will be used for administrative costs and fundraising but we wish that the greatest portion will reach its intended recipients. Sometimes our charitable efforts are thwarted and wasted by the group claiming to champion the cause by poor management or fraud. In such a situation, “those in need are deprived of funds that otherwise would have helped them, the government misses out on money that should have been taxed, legitimate charities are bypassed, and donors become hesitant to give (Burnett 2017).”

Scouring through many articles and statistics from various countries has pointed to the fact that many so-called charitable groups have manipulated the circumstances surrounding particular causes for their own gain but the true altruistic charities should not be overlooked for their continued efforts.

Donate Wisely

1. Identify and research the causes you care about so that you are knowledgeable about it.

2. Don’t be guilt-tripped into giving to every “worthy” cause. Be firm and informed so that you are able to give carefully.

3. Never fall for over the phone situations! Keep your donations away from telemarketers and donate via the group’s website or mailing a check.

4. Inspect the group’s finances and when you give, follow up to see how was spent.


“Altruism — What Is It?”. 2017. Altruists.Org.

Burnett, Derek. 2017. “How Charities Spend Your Money: Eye-Opening Truths To Read Before You Donate”. Reader’s Digest.

Froats, Phil. 2013. “How Much Of What You Donate Actually Goes To Charity?”. The Huffington Post.

Krause, Grace. 2013. “The Problem With Charity”. Blog. Riding The Sociological Rollercoaster.

The Pocket Guide To Fundraising Psychology. 2017. Ebook.