Tuesday, 13 November 2007

We can't trust donors...can we?

It's all very well calling for more accountability to donors - but can we trust them to make the right decisions?

New research from the University of Southampton suggests we can. Looking at the results of a large survey, it finds:
  • Although only one in ten people give to overseas development charities, the mean amount given per donor was much higher than for other causes. (Table 1)
  • The distribution of donations towards overseas development is very skewed. The Gini co-efficient is 0.63 and the top 10% of donors account for almost half of the value of all donations. (Table 2)
  • Although overseas giving is correlated with personal income, it is not when the regression is controlled for variables associated with income such as education. The difference between the controlled and uncontrolled correlation co-efficients is larger for overseas giving than all other causes of charitable giving. (Table 10)
In broad terms, this means that most publicly-raised money comes from a very few people (about half the money comes from 1% of the adult population). More than any other cause, the higher the education level of the donor, the more they give.

If donors are such a well-educated and exclusive bunch, why don't we trust them to influence what happens with their money more?

These are the report's authors Professor John Micklewright and Dr Sylke Schnepf:

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