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Richer Lives – why rich people give (book review)

Howard Lake | 3 October 2013 | Blogs

Richer Lives – why rich people give
by Beth Breeze and Theresa Lloyd
Directory of Social Change
30 September 2013
ISBN-13:978 1 906294 79 3
This is an excellent addition to the literature which attempts to describe the giving motivations and behaviour of those supporting charities. It builds upon Theresa Lloyd’s earlier 2004 work: Why Rich People Give, re-interviewing 40 of the original participants and adding new interviews with 42 more emerging philanthropists. To date philanthropy has often had bad press in the UK being seen only as the plaything of the uber-rich. This work goes some way to debunking that assertion.
The insights are valuable for academics and fundraising practitioners alike and underline a lot of what has already been observed about the philanthropy of individuals in the UK. The research methodology appears pragmatic but well-structured and appropriate.
Whilst there is a large body of work attempting to describe and analyse giving behaviour there is considerably less concerning the more subtle interactions between givers and the causes to whom they give money and time. This is interestingly discussed in relation to givers involvement with their supported charities and the degree to which they also volunteer. Similarly the chapter on “Being asked and asking” reflects previous research into the “Spectrum of Philanthropy” and is welcome further evidence of the relevance of the “Space Between” as psychologists call the creative interactions between two parties allowed to explore the issues between them.
The chapters on why rich people give (and don’t give) also provide further evidence of the need by fundraisers to understand fully the processes going on and the need for academics to conduct more rigorous investigations into this under-researched area.
It may yet not answer the question of the motivations for rich people to give to charity, but all in all it’s not only a valuable publication but also a good read.
Peter Maple (© 2013)
Peter Maple is Course Director MSc Management in Civil Society at LSBU