Dissertation Spotlight: Essays on Charitable Activity: Donor Preferences, Charity Organizational Structure, and Long-Run Impact

The author explores charitable activity and its relationship with religious affiliations through examining the incentives for charitable giving. The author also studies and determines the long-run impact of heterogeneous mission educational aid. One key component within this research is donor preferences for charity religious affiliation. Donor preference is the cause that a donor selects to contribute their money to. These types of causes or charities could be religiously affiliated, politically affiliated, or support certain causes that a donor may or may not agree with.

Currently, there is no clear impact of a charity’s affiliation on donor behavior in the United States. Rather, the researcher utilizes a laboratory experiment comparing masked and unmasked sessions, choosing from a list of eight charities varying in religious affiliation to further understand the impact a charity’s religious affiliation has over donor preference.

The researcher determines that mandatory disclosure has a zero net change in donor behavior towards charities. This is in result to the researcher’s observance of multiple Form 990-T disclosures included in the Pension Protection Act. Since a charity is considered a non-profit organization that receives donations, this form offers transparency on their financial information. The author compares these forms and concludes that aggregate total contributions and government grants received do not actually change as a result of donor behavior towards charities. The author reviews these forms in order to show a possible relationship between donor behavior towards charities as a result of mandatory disclosure.

The author determines long-run impacts of religious-based development charities on economic and cultural outcomes by comparing education aid by Presbyterian and Methodist missions in 20th century Korea. While no educational attainment differences were found, the researcher found a large impact on the average monthly income between the two missions. The average monthly income of Protestants living in historically Presbyterian areas was 300,000 won greater than that of the Protestant households on the Methodist side of the comity agreement border. This evidence exposes the relationship between religious affiliation and charitable activity, and the likeliness of donor preferences with these aspects present.

Dr. Jonathan D. Oxley is a graduate of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University. This post was based on Jonathan’s dissertation, written by COSSPP Blog Intern, Madison Riccio.

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