Donor Motivations

This research was designed to test theories of motivation as found in national and international literature by relating these findings to donors who live, work, or attend school in Thurston County, Washington. We distributed an electronic survey requesting demographic information as well as questions to assess motives and opinions of our respondents. We received 150 valid responses, but cannot generalize our findings to the entire county due to the homogeneity and size of the sample.

We found that highly religious donors are more likely to give through religious organizations, and rank basic service organizations as more important than organizations that provide services such as environmental advocacy or cultural activities. We also found that donors who have previously benefited from philanthropic organizations are more likely to feel an obligation to give back to the community. Finally, we found that altruism and effectiveness are not as significant to motivate donors in Thurston County as may be indicated by national and international research.

Typical Respondent:

  • 40 year old state employee
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Earns $50,000-$100,000 a year
  • Volunteered an average of 20 hours
  • Gave about $500
  • 65% of respondents were women

Further information:

Full report

Annotated bibliography


Survey form

Survey results (Excel)

Survey results (SPSS)