Charitable bequest importance among donors to different types of charities

Jennifer Lehman, Russell N. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This paper explores differences in the self-rated importance of charitable estate giving depending upon the type of charitable cause a person donates to during life. One theoretical motivation for lifetime giving is to personally enjoy benefits from improving a shared collective good. However, this motivation is not possible for bequests. Bequest transfers and resulting improvements occur after personal enjoyment of benefits is no longer possible. This paper hypothesizes that among donors to high personal benefit causes (those typically creating shared goods benefitting donors), interest in a charitable bequest (which offers no opportunity for receiving such benefits) will be relatively less than among donors to low personal benefit causes. In order to explore this, each charity type is categorized as providing high, low, or mixed personal benefits from shared collective goods. This hypothesis receives mixed support. Donors to international relief organizations, a low personal benefit charity type, do place a higher importance on charitable bequests than do donors to shared-goods type causes such as neighborhood associations, service clubs, sports leagues, or “other” charities, including those focused on local public safety and crime. However, donors to arts organizations—a classic example of donors creating a shared good—have a relatively high interest in charitable bequests. One important exception to the exclusion of postmortem personal benefits could come from religious belief. Accordingly, donors to religious causes do place a higher importance on charitable bequests.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1657
JournalInternational Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Charitable bequest importance among donors to different types of charities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this