- Who currently donates charitable support to their association
beyond the obligatory dues?
- Why do members give? How important is association giving to
members compared to other philanthropic activity?
- How do members prefer to give? And how do they like to be
- What can associations do to encourage greater philanthropic activity
In the United States each year, more than $250 billion is donated to charities, and more than 60 million individuals volunteer their time. This study
looks at how that generosity might be manifested through a donor's professional ties and interests. Studies abound on why people give in response to
disasters, to prevent disease, to help the disadvantaged, or to support causes important to them. Yet the relationship between association membership
and giving decisions has not been actively explored. In fact, many professional associations have established charitable organizations to support
education, research, and other needs not supported by membership dues.
This Decision to Give study surveyed 5,004 individuals from six participating associations to understand the motivations of members who make
optional financial contributions above and beyond dues and fees.
This is the third in a series of large-scale research studies sponsored by ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership to advance knowledge in
association management. In past years, ASAE & The Center have examined why people join associations (in The Decision to Join, authored by
James Dalton and Monica Dignam in 2007) and why they volunteer (in The Decision to Volunteer, authored by Beth Gazley and Monica Dignam in
2008). This third study probes and describes an equally important aspect of membership philanthropic activity: financial support for research, scholarships, charitable programs, and other related causes.
This report hopes to encourage more member support for missionrelated activities and also to improve the public's understanding of the
philanthropic activities that are regularly carried out through professional associations and societies. Since only some associations are registered as
charitable organizations and since most member services are provided through dues and fees, it is quite easy for observers to overlook the valuable
and extensive philanthropic activity within the association world.
This report emphasizes in particular the relationship between giving and member demographics, membership satisfaction, volunteer activities,
dues structure, and the ways members prefer to be solicited and make their donations. The study is about more than improving an association's
fundraising prowess. On a much more fundamental level, it addresses philanthropic activity as a member service. Members, like donors anywhere,
welcome opportunities to connect their charitable priorities to their professional world. Associations can profoundly increase the value of
a professional affiliation that allows members to serve not only themselves but others as well.
Section 1 What Frames the Decision to Give?
Section 2 The Study: Context and Framework
Section 3 The Big Picture: Key Findings and Insights
Section 4 Acting on This Research
Appendix Cross-Tabulation Tables for All Questions/All Respondents
The Decision to Give Bibliography
About the Authors
1 Age (Year Born)
2 Duration in Current Profession (Year Entered)
3 Sector (if employed full- or part-time)
4 Highest Level of Education
5 Household Income
6 Charitable Giving: All Americans and Survey Respondents Compared
7 Giving to Associations Anytime in the Past and in the Last 12 Months
8 Employer Type of All Respondents and Association Givers Compared
9 Gender of All Respondents and Association Givers Compared
10 Impact of Level of Education on Giving
11 Association Givers by Career Level
12 Association Givers by Generation
13 Percentage of Those Who Gave to a Professional Association in the Past 12 Months and Have Volunteered for Their
Association in the Past 12 Months
14 Current Givers Compared to All Respondents by Household Income
15 Reasons Donors Give
16 Causes to Which Current Association Donors Are Likely to Contribute
17 Have You Ever Been Asked to Make Any Gift of Money to Your Association for Any Purpose?
18 Volunteers Who Have Been Asked to Give
19 Generations Asked to Give
20 Volunteers Asked to Give
21 Asked to Give by Household Income
22 Barriers to Giving
23 Who Pays Membership Dues
24 Giving to Association By Who Pays Association Dues
25 Unwillingness to Give Using the Internet, by Age
26 Preference for Solicitation Methods
27 Importance of Tax Deductibility to Giving
A.1.a, A.1.b To how many professional organizations do you belong, including [cosponsor]?
A.2.a, A.2.b Which of the following best describes your current employment situation?
A.3.a, A.3.b Which of the following best describes the type of organization in which you are employed?
A.4.a, A.4.b In what year did you begin working in the profession or industry in which you are now employed?
A.5.a, A.5.b Which best describes your current career situation?
A.6.a, A.6.b Next year at this time, do you think that your employment situation will be better, worse, or about the same as it is now?
A.7.a, A.7.b Which of the following best describes your highest level of education?
A.8.a, A.8.b What is your gender?
A.9.a, A.9.b What year were you born? (classified)
A.10.a, A.10.b Which best describes your marital/partner status?
A.11.a, A.11.b Do you have children under 18 years old living in your household?
A.12.a, A.12.b Because religious participation provides opportunities for giving, can you please describe your current level of religious activity?
A.13.a, A.13.b Which of the following best describes your geographic area?
A.14.a, A.14.b What category best describes your total household income (before taxes, 2008 income in US dollars)?
A.15.a, A.15.b Who pays for your membership fee for [cosponsor]?
A.16.a, A.16.b Would you say that you consider [cosponsor] your primary professional affiliation or does another organization fill that role for
A.17.a, A.17.b In the last 12 months, have you performed any work as a volunteer for [cosponsor] in any way (including writing, presenting programs,
recruiting members, serving on boards, committees, task forces or any other way)?
A.18.a In what ways have you performed work for [cosponsor] as a volunteer in the past 12 months?
A.18.b In what ways have you performed work for [cosponsor] as a volunteer in the past 12 months?
A.19.a, A.19.b Cosponsor level of Volunteering
A.20.a, A.20.b Overall, how satisfied are you with your membership in [cosponsor] right now?
A.21.a How important is it to you that [cosponsor] deliver the following types of programs, benefits, and services to you or your profession?
A.21.b How important is it to you that [cosponsor] deliver the following types of programs, benefits, and services to you or your profession?
A.22 In the past 12 months have you given a gift of money to any organization like a religious organization, educational institution, disaster relief, professional organization, association, or any other nonprofit organization?
A.23.a, A.23.b To what type(s) of organization(s) have you given a gift of money in the past 12 months?
A.24.a, A.24.b How important are the following reasons in your decisions about giving money to ANY organization?
A.25.a, A.25.b When making a gift to any organization, how important is it that your gift be tax deductible?
A.26.a, A.26.b Approximately how much have you donated, in U.S. dollars, in the past 12 months? (Please estimate the total amount given to all
organizations in cash donations.)
A.27.a, A.27.b Please estimate your giving during the past 12 months as a percent of your total annual household income (as in 1%, 2.5%,
A.27.c Please estimate your giving during the past 12 months as a percent of your total annual household income (as in 1%, 2.5%,
A.28.a, A.28.b To how many organizations do you plan to give in the next 12 months?
A.29.a, A.29.b Which of the following best describes your feelings about giving through the Internet?
A.29.c Which of the following best describes your feelings about giving through the Internet?
A.30.a Listed below are a variety of ways people might be asked to give a donation of money. For each one, please select the statement that
best describes your response to being asked this way.
A.30.b Listed below are a variety of ways people might be asked to give a donation of money. For each one, please select the statement that
best describes your response to being asked this way.
A.31 Aside from membership dues, volunteer time and any purchases of products or services, have you ever made any gifts of money to
[cosponsor] for any purpose (including education, building funds, or any other reason)?
A.32.a, A.32.b Have you ever been asked to make any gift of money to [cosponsor] for any purpose (including education, building funds,
or any other reason)?
A.33.a, A.33.b Whether or not you have given to [cosponsor] in the past, please use the scales provided to indicate the likelihood of your
giving a gift of money to [cosponsor] for the purpose or motive described.
A.34.a, A.34.b Are any of the following barriers to your contributing money to [cosponsor]?