For the love of humanity: an exploratory study of what drives Dutch millionaires to give away wealth

This exploratory study examined donating behavior of wealthy individuals in the Netherlands. Specifically, it explored the types of underlying motivations that precede donating behavior and examined how these individuals give shape to their philanthropic agendas. Besides notions of ‘impure altruism’, to which economists have largely turned to explain pro-social behavior, other psychological factors may be at play, which seem more complex to disentangle and may be overlooked by quantitative research designs. This study used the in-depth interview method to yield qualitative data from a sample of wealthy individuals from a variety of backgrounds. The data were coded into categories and themes to identify the main drivers behind philanthropic behavior (personal joy, fulfilment, esteem, impact on others’ lives) and to articulate the expectations towards target projects (scale, transparency, trust, tangibility). The findings are relevant for researchers by understanding the hitherto under-investigated population of millionaire-philanthropists, and have implications for practitioners in the non-profit sector by better understanding the rationale of wealthy donors as possible financiers of their activities.

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