Document Type


Publication Date




A survey study of 321 Asian American donors tested key demographic, attitudinal, and situational factors affecting Asian American charitable giving in the San Francisco-Oakland area. Leading inquiries in the study were to determine (a) a profile of donors in the sample, (b) whether significant relationships exist between relevant factors and charitable giving, (c) effective solicitation techniques, and reasons for giving and not giving.

The survey instrument was an eight page questionnaire mailed in July of 1987 to individuals currently on mailing lists of Asian non-profit organizations. The lists consisted of individuals who were known to have donated to these organizations in the past. The survey questionnaire featured questions on demographic information, attitudes, charitable giving, solicitation techniques, reasons for giving, and reasons for not giving.

The respondent sample was 321 individuals of Asian descent. Respondents were a well educated group (82.8% had at least a bachelor's degree), and had median gross personal income of $34,279 and median gross household income of $52,638. Survey findings revealed that Asians in the sample gave an average of $1,325.15 per household to charitable causes in 1986. This was, on average, 2.7 percent of their household income. Compared to other national studies, this indicates that the Asian Americans sampled can be classified as substantial givers. The Independent Sector defines low-level giving as less than .05 percent of household income, middle-level giving as .05 percent to 2.49 percent, and substantial giving as 2.5 percent or more (Hodgkinson & Weitzman, 1986, p.67).

Demographic factors such as socioeconomic status and home ownership positively and significantly correlated with giving. Key attitudes regarding family financial support, volunteering, and social responsibility significantly correlated with giving. Situational factors such as life events, volunteering, parental giving, and asking others to give significantly correlated with giving. In-person solicitations were rated most effective. "Feeling a part of an organization" was the most prevalent answer among self -reported reasons for giving, while "cause unrelated to your interests" followed closely by "not enough earnings" scored highest among the reasons for not giving.

Individuals at lower income levels gave significantly greater proportions of their incomes than those in higher income levels. Persons with incomes under $10,000 donated on average 6.6 percent of their personal income to charity, while those making between $20,000 and $60,000 donated an average of 2.2 percent of their income to charity.

Attitudes on volunteering and volunteering itself positively correlated with giving to Asian nonprofits. The more nonprofit organizations an individual volunteered with, the more likely he or she would be to give to Asian nonprofits and to give charitably overall. Volunteers also gave substantially more than non-volunteers. In the present study, volunteers gave an average of $1,016, more than twice as much as the non-volunteers' donation of $499. Volunteers also donated 2.8 percent of their household income to charity, compared with non-volunteers who gave 2.0 percent.