Research

Who Cares About Crackdowns? Exploring the Role of Trust in Individual Philanthropy

When seeing crackdown,
people with low social trust
are fairweather friends.

Suparna Chaudhry, Marc Dotson, and Andrew Heiss, “Who Cares About Crackdowns? Exploring the Role of Trust in Individual Philanthropy,” Global Policy 12, no. S5 (July 2021): 45–58, doi: 10.1111/1758-5899.12984

Other details: Presented at a workshop for a special issue of Global Policy entitled “Restricting NGOs: From Pushback to Accommodation,” University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, June 2020 (held online due to COVID-19)


 

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Abstract

The phenomenon of closing civic space has adversely impacted INGO funding. We argue that individual private donors can be important in sustaining the operations of INGOs working in repressive contexts. Individual donors do not use the same performance-based metrics as official aid donors. Rather, trust can be an important component of individual donor support for nonprofits working towards difficult goals. How does trust in charitable organizations influence individuals’ preferences to donate, especially when these groups face crackdown? Using a simulated market for philanthropic donations based on data from a nationally representative sample of individuals in the United States who regularly donate to charity, we find that trust in INGOs matters substantially in shaping donor preferences. Donor profiles with high levels of social trust are likely to donate to INGOs with friendly relationships with host governments. This support holds steady if INGOs face criticism or crackdown. In contrast, donor profiles with lower levels of social trust prefer to donate to organizations that do not face criticism or crackdown abroad. The global crackdown on NGOs may thus possibly sour NGOs’ least trusting individual donors. Our findings have practical implications for INGOs raising funds from individuals amid closing civic space.

Important figure

Figure 4: Average predicted donation market shares across all personas, segmented by persona public affairs knowledge, political ideology, and social trust across different NGO–host government relationships

Figure 4: Average predicted donation market shares across all personas, segmented by persona public affairs knowledge, political ideology, and social trust across different NGO–host government relationships

Data and code

The project is reproducible with R code available at GitHub. Follow the instructions there to install all supporting files and R packages.

This project includes the following data files:

BibTeX citation

@article{ChaudhryDotsonHeiss:2021,
    Author = {Suparna Chaudhry and Marc Dotson and Andrew Heiss},
    Doi = {10.1111/1758-5899.12984},
    Journal = {Global Policy},
    Month = {7},
    Number = {S5},
    Pages = {45--58},
    Title = {Who Cares About Crackdowns? Exploring the Role of Trust in Individual Philanthropy},
    Volume = {12},
    Year = {2021}}