Your Politics Affect Your Generosity With Charity

With so much up for debate these days, charitable giving seems like one of the few unadulterated goods left out there. Someone is always going to have an opinion on how that money gets spent, but for most people, the impulse is generally good. Unfortunately, politics has a knack for ruining everything. In this case, it can swing how much you'll give to a cause.

Researchers from institutions in Utah, North Carolina, Georgia, and Indiana have just released a study looking into the party breakdowns of philanthropists big and small, as well as tracking their giving during election cycles. No matter what donors' affiliations were, one pattern applied throughout the data set: In counties with highly competitive politics, charitable giving goes down.

The team suggests that in less gridlocked communities with solid political majorities, constituents are more certain of or content giving to organizations that match their own views and values. There are also some generational considerations in play: Older donors may be more inclined to give to an institution, while younger donors might favor direct giving through crowdfunding.

Ultimately, we may cling to both our politics and our charity because we've made them offshoots of our identity. Philanthropy has had a hard time in general, given an uneven economy and weird new tax implications which could make giving more expensive. No matter what your party, if you're feeling down because you can't afford to give money, there's still a lot you can do to put some good out in the world.