Much is known about motivations for giving to charities generally. However, much less has been identified about bequestors as a unique type of charitable donor. This paper explores the motives and barriers for charitable bequest giving. Hypotheses are drawn from the general philanthropic literature and tested using survey data from Australia, a nation distinguished by very high lifetime (inter vivos) giving but low estate (post mortem) giving. The results show that belief in the efficacy of charitable organizations is requisite for leaving a bequest, as the deceased donor has no control over the enactment of the gift. This effect is mediated by the perceived difficulty of making a charitable bequest, which forms an important barrier for leaving such a legacy. Having family whose financial needs are perceived as not taken care of and the perception of financial inability to make a difference also form barriers for bequest giving. The results confirm that bequests constitute a distinctive charitable behaviour, with unique motives and barriers compared to other types of inter vivos giving. While charitable behaviour in general is driven by altruistic attitudes and political and religious values, as well as social reputation, these factors do not affect charitable bequest making as expected. Surprisingly, we find a negative relationship between financial resources and the inclination to leave a charitable bequest. The article ends with suggestions for ways charities might connect more meaningfully with their bequestors or with donors who might consider bequeathing to them.

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Journal of Consumer Behaviour
Department of Sociology

Scaife, W., McDonald, K., & Wiepking, P. (2012). Motives and barriers to bequest giving. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 11(1), 56–66. doi:10.1002/cb.369