Social Networks and Charitable Giving: Trusting, Doing, Asking, and Alter Primacy

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Article - Abstract Only

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charitable giving, social networks, social capital, social theory, altruism


This study examines social networks and financial giving to charitable or religious causes. Conventional social capital measures of general social trust and size of social network are studied as predictors of charitable giving. To these traditional measures, we add an examination of particular network aspects of giving: ego giving in relation to network alters who give, solicitations to give by network ties, and ego soliciting alters to give. In addition, the study disaggregates alter effects by alter position. Findings indicate that, net of social trust, social network factors significantly predict likelihood of being a giver. In particular, findings are that egos are especially likely to be donors when their primary alter donates. Three configurations of ego–alter giving and solicitations are significant predictors of ego giving, indicating that ego–alter doing matters more than asking. Theoretical contributions for relational and prosocial studies are discussed, as are practical implications for fundraising professionals.

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