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Motivations for Giving

Why and how people and organizations give varies. Individuals, who account for over 82 percent of charitable contributions, mainly give because they are asked and presented with a giving opportunity that motivates them. Still others are motivated by peer pressure, the tax benefits of giving, or the opportunity to make a difference, or to leave a legacy through planned gifts.

Foundations account for 13 percent of charitable contributions and give based on their foundation's specific defined philanthropic focus and goals. They are looking to leverage their grants against other contributions and often require a show of commitment and citizen involvement from the recipient organization. Foundations are often interested in prototype projects or seed money to launch a longer-term project. Usually, they are inclined to not provide on-going funding beyond three years.

Only 5 percent of charitable contributions come from corporations. Corporations see giving as an investment in community well-being, a better environment, motivated and healthier employees. Through contributions in the form of cash, technical assistance or in-kind goods and services, corporations invest in a positive image, visibility, acceptance and community relations. In addition, corporations tap their taxable business budgets to support promotions, product placement, and marketing activities that can sometimes provide assistance to parks through cause-related marketing campaigns and corporate products.

Individual Giving

  • The main reason individuals give is because they are asked and presented with a giving opportunity that motivates them to give.
  • People give because they hate to say no person to person. The chance for success doubles when a donor is asked by someone he or she knows well.
  • People often give in order to control where their money goes and how it is used.
  • People support what they believe in. They truly want to make a positive difference.
  • They give because someone made it easy or convenient to give.
  • Giving is often enhanced because tax laws make it advantageous to do so.
  • People give because they want to be remembered or leave a legacy.
  • People sometimes give because it's expected. Peer pressure is a prime motivator.
  • Some people give to gain acceptance, buy into society, buy friendship.
  • Some people give because it's fun.
  • Donors usually have a giving amount in mind, but they are not always sure for what purpose. They are looking for opportunities.
  • People give because they can.
  • A large percent of contributed dollars are given in small amounts from motivated donors.
  • Increasingly larger donors are approaching their giving as they do investing. They want to maximize the leverage and impact of their gift.
  • A high percentage of substantial individual occurs in the last quarter of the tax/calendar year.
  • Major gifts are often structured as planned gifts including endowments during their lifetime and bequests upon their passing.
Foundation Giving
  • Foundations look for a measure of benefit per dollar given.
  • Foundations want to see their contribution leverage other contributions and often seek to maximize their leverage.
  • Foundations often require a demonstration of commitment and citizen involvement.
  • Foundations will insist on accountability and credibility.
  • Foundations usually have precisely defined philanthropic focus and goals and sometimes geographic constraints as well.
  • Most foundations are more interested in prototype projects or seed money to launch a longer-term project. Three years support to launch new initiatives is often the limit. Ongoing projects or recurring operating costs are far less appealing to foundations.
  • Foundations receive many more requests than they can fund. Research the foundation, fine-tune your grant-writing skills and custom tailor your grant proposal.
  • Keep in mind that you are not getting funding from organizations but from the individuals who manage those organizations. Start locally, where there is better chance for personal connections with your cause. Recruit people with personal connections to the foundation board members and executive staff and involve them in meetings with foundation.
  • Some foundations can't or don't make grants directly to governmental agencies.
Corporate Giving
  • Corporations don't give. They invest.
  • Corporations realize benefits from their investment in community well-being, a better environment, motivated and healthier employees, etc.
  • Corporations invest in positive image, positive exposure, visibility, acceptance and community relations.
  • Corporations may require leveraging matching funds and the commitment of others.
  • Corporations are likely to require grassroots participation, often including their employees.
  • Many corporations give heavily through federated campaigns, such as the United Way.
  • Corporate giving is about 55 percent cash, 45 percent technical assistance or in-kind goods and services.
  • Sixty percent of corporate giving is direct; 40 percent is through corporate foundations.
  • About 25 percent of corporate support comes from marketing rather than philanthropic sources.
  • Corporations are in business to make money, not give it away. Their decision to act philanthropically is usually related to some business interest.
  • Corporate tax years vary. It is best to make a proposal early in the tax year, although it may not be approved until later in the year when the corporate profit picture is clearer.
  • Businesses want to be associated with winners. Their image is on the line with every donation.
  • Businesses want fast decision making, implementation, and minimal red tape.
  • Businesses want to see results. Your ability to define your goals and show clear accomplishments will be essential in attracting support.
  • Corporations are expected to display a social consciousness.
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