In your previous studies, you have defined several families of donors in French society, each of which behaves differently. Can you explain to us?
Laurence de Nervaux: Our approach in social psychology has, in fact, enabled us to identify, according to their values, six major families in French society. France generosités asked us to study last year how these six families act in terms of donations and what can be done to improve overall generosity. The first two groups, the “disillusioned militants”, who are sensitive to inequalities, have strong convictions but feel a sense of powerlessness, and the “stabilizers”, also committed but moderate and rational, are those who give the most. They are also the most involved in civic life and political participation. Among the people surveyed, more than four out of ten in these two groups have given to an association in the last twelve months.
Are the other groups therefore much less donors?
L. of N.: The “optimistic liberals”, which bring together people who are rather pragmatic, individualistic and confident in the future, are 27% to have given in the past year. As for the “identitarians”, who are more conservative, more intransigent and more attached to their values, 23% say they have made a donation. The percentage drops to 18% for the “left behind”, who feel abandoned, and to 13% for the “wait-and-see”, younger, more detached and also more withdrawn. The group of “left behind” is very interesting to observe, because it is the largest in number and can be compared to the movement of yellow vests. This group will have a significant impact on social cohesion in the coming years, depending on whether it regains hope for the future or whether it turns to “identities” closed to the world. Their generosity is one of the indicators to follow for their future behavior.
How are these differences in giving explained?
L. of N.: Beyond the first factor of giving, which remains economic resources, there is a strong correlation between generosity and trust in the collective and in others. Several studies have confirmed that wealth was not the only lever of donation since when income increases, donations do not increase in proportion. We must therefore look for other explanations in the value systems of individuals, which refer as much to the causes supported as to the values defended by the associations. The “disillusioned militants” and the “stabilizers” are found much more in the large associations and NGOs than the other families. They are more attached to the general interest and to social cohesion. For example, we have an international index which shows that 63% of people who donate to an association are also used to helping their neighbors (compared to 45% for non-donors).
What role does generosity play in social cohesion, the objective that your think tank defends?
L. of N.: It obviously has a very important role in collective trust and we have measured it from the beginning in our indicators, whether through donations, volunteering, individual commitment or civic participation. For France generosity and the major associations, it is also an issue. Because even if the average donation continues to increase, the number of donors is decreasing and this contributes to weakening society. If we do not want to end up with an American situation where those who give are rich philanthropists who choose their causes, we must improve the diversity of donors in France, from the smallest to the largest.
How do you think associations and NGOs can recruit new donors?
L. of N.: As we see that generosity seems to be polarized on two groups of donors, it is imperative to also reach the other groups. Extending generosity to all families means strengthening the cohesion of society. We also need it because the number of causes we want to touch is growing: we think of environmental transition and the animal cause. Finally, but Destin Commun is not alone in saying this, we must recreate confidence in French society. Associations, congregations and intermediate bodies have this role to play. The donation also contributes to this strengthening of confidence by creating a virtuous circle of commitment.