Philanthropy Expert Says Conservatives Are More Generous, Will Media Notice?

A book written by a highly-regarded philanthropy expert and Syracuse University professor providing statistical evidence that conservatives donate more money to charities than liberals regardless of income has just been published. As reported by Beliefnet.com (h/t to Drudge, emphasis mine throughout):

Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks is about to become the darling of the religious right in America -- and it's making him nervous.

The child of academics, raised in a liberal household and educated in the liberal arts, Brooks has written a book that concludes religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income.

In the book, he cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives -- from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services -- make conservatives more generous than liberals.

The article continued:

When it comes to helping the needy, Brooks writes: "For too long, liberals have been claiming they are the most virtuous members of American society. Although they usually give less to charity, they have nevertheless lambasted conservatives for their callousness in the face of social injustice."

You would think this guy was a devout Republican, right? Think again: “For the record, Brooks, 42, has been registered in the past as a Democrat, then a Republican, but now lists himself as independent, explaining, ‘I have no comfortable political home.’"

What are Brooks’ qualifications:

Since 2003 he has been director of nonprofit studies for Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.  

Brooks is a behavioral economist by training who researches the relationship between what people do -- aside from their paid work -- why they do it, and its economic impact.

He's a number cruncher who relied primarily on 10 databases assembled over the past decade, mostly from scientific surveys. The data are adjusted for variables such as age, gender, race and income to draw fine-point conclusions.

Brooks seems well-prepared for the criticism he is going to face for his findings:

His book, he says, is carefully documented to withstand the scrutiny of other academics, which he said he encourages.

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money.

The article continued:

Such an attitude, he writes, not only shortchanges the nonprofits but also diminishes the positive fallout of giving, including personal health, wealth and happiness for the donor and overall economic growth. All of this, he said, he backs up with statistical analysis.

Brooks seems almost embarrassed about his findings:

"These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago," he writes in the introduction. "I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book."

Still, he says it forcefully, pointing out that liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.

Brooks has gotten an endorsement from an unlikely source:

Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard University and 2004 recipient of the National Humanities Medal, does not know Brooks personally but has read the book.

"His main finding is quite startling, that the people who talk the most about caring actually fork over the least," he said. "But beyond this finding I thought his analysis was extremely good, especially for an economist. He thinks very well about the reason for this and reflects about politics and morals in a way most economists do their best to avoid."

Shocking stuff. Of course, it will be fascinating to see whether this book gets any attention from a media that will certainly not believe any of its findings.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.