Give From the Head or Give From the Heart?

OUR dog Lucy died this week, and it got me thinking about the role she played in making both my wife and me more charitable.

That's the opening of Paul Sullivan's new NYTimes column, Two Paths for Charitable Giving: From the Head or From the Heart. He tells the story of how, for him and his wife, their dog got them involved with training guide dogs and giving to organizations that help the blind. Then he juxtaposes their emotionally driven giving against the emergent model of using data to guide your giving.

“The whole issue of measuring and metrics and trying to have impact data is, I think, a very contemporary part of philanthropy,” said Thomas E. K. Cerruti, former personal lawyer to Sam Skaggs, a billionaire philanthropist who made his fortune in supermarkets and drugstores. “What motivates people to give? For selfish reasons, a name on a building is at the top of the list. But some people want to effectuate something that has some personal interest to them. Other types of motivations are hard to analyze.”

The whole piece is well worth the read.