Men and women are undoubtedly different, and the difference is reflected even in the way they do charity, reveals a new study.
For instance, there is a needy person in your neighbourhood and a needy person in a foreign country.
If you're man, and you give to charity at all, it is more likely to go to a needy person in your neighbourhood but if you're a woman you are more likely to be charitable and you will also give to someone local as well as someone in a foreign country, the research found.
Texas A and M University marketing professor Karen Winterich says she can predict charitable behaviour to different groups by an individual based on just two factors: gender and moral identity.
The results of Winterich's studies involving American participants have implications for those in the fund-raising arena.
The study examined how people responded to a need within an "ingroup" and an "outgroup." An ingroup has an obvious connection to the potential donor, such as physical proximity or ethnicity, while the outgroup might have nothing more than humanity to relate it to the donor.
In the study, participants completed a survey to gauge their moral identity. Later, each was given five 1 dollar bills and three options: keep the cash, give it to a Hurricane Katrina relief fund, or give it to a relief fund for victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.
The results were very consistent. Women with higher moral identity were more likely to split their dollars evenly between the two charities. Women with lower moral identities gave more to the ingroup (Katrina victims).
Men with high moral identities gave to the ingroup, but seldom to the outgroup (tsunami victims). Men with low moral identities pocketed the cash.
Winterich's work reinforces other studies of moral identity that show its correlation to how an individual expands his or her bubble of concern to include others. Low moral identity indicates a person will be more focused on self; high moral identity means a person will be more focused on others.
Winterich said that the bottom line for fundraisers is that they need to examine how they position themselves relative to their potential donor.
Charities must focus on the relationship between the donor and the cause to ensure that the charity is viewed as an ingroup, particularly if men are the target. Also, since women tend to be more generous, charities should target them specifically whenever possible.
Additionally, priming a potential donor to think about their moral identity can make them more charitable than they might otherwise be.
There was one other surprise from this study.
"It was shocking to me how much they gave. I think it says good things for society," Winterich said.
The research is published in the forthcoming Journal of Consumer Research.