How ’Rage Giving’ Has Become Philanthropy’s New Normal
Emily Burack - Town & Country
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July 30, 2022

When the news feels overwhelmingly terrible - a school shooting, an antisemitic attack on a synagogue, a surge in the world’s refugee population - it’s hard to know how to channel the feelings of despair and helplessness. But lately, many people have had the same response: Make a donation to an organization dedicated to righting whatever went wrong.

Individuals are increasingly turning to a philanthropic phenomenon scholars have deemed “rage giving.” Rage givers typically donate in small sums ($5 or $10), are first-time donors to the organization, and are donating as much to make a statement as to make a difference.

According to a report on the phenomenon published by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (ATP), the experience of rage giving is almost always sparked by a divisive political moment, fueled by extensive media coverage around said moment, and characterized by a sudden, unexpected increase in donations and a strong emotional response in donors.

Historically, philanthropy wasn’t about intense feelings of anger or outrage. People typically gave to charity as a sense of duty, or because they were passionate about the cause. That is definitively not the case in rage giving. “The rage gift is actually a form of political protest,” says Dr. Jennifer Taylor, who studies donor psychology, “a charitable donation motivated by dissatisfaction with the political climate.”

Giving in response to bad news is not exactly new; humanitarian groups and disaster-relief organizations have always fundraised in the aftermath of catastrophe. But rage giving, Taylor says, is “unique and distinct from other types of giving.” Taylor, who co-authored Rage Giving with Katrina Miller-Stevens for Cambridge University Press, first noticed this phenomenon during the 2016 election. Rage donors, she explains, are dissatisfied with something happening in politics or the world, and thus compelled to do something - in part because they actually believe it can make a difference, and in part to get rid of those negative feelings.

Taylor calls rage giving a form of effective altruism, a concept that advocates using “evidence and reason to figure out how to benefit others as much as possible.”

Read the rest at Town & Country

Related: ‘Rage Giving’: Charities Can Get a Boost From Current Events (The Conversation)

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