There are several questions that have fascinated behavioural scientists for decades: why do people ignore information that is right in front of us? Why do we seem to care so little about our long-term futures? And why do we give money to charity? Behavioural science can help us to unpack the question further.
Researchers have looked into why people donate, why they don’t do it as much as they would hope to and how to bridge this gap. The explanations for charitable giving fall into three broad categories, from the purely altruistic – I donate because I value the social good done by the charity. The “impurely” altruistic – I donate because I extract value from knowing I contribute to the social good for the charity. And the the not-at-all altruistic – I donate because I want to show off to potential mates how rich I am.