About this project

Rene Bekkers and Pamala Wiepking started the project “Understanding Philanthropy” in 2006 with the objective to review as many empirical journal articles studying charitable giving as they could find. This resulted in an extensive literature review, covering over 500 journal articles from many scientific disciplines, including economics, sociology, psychology, marketing, law and philanthropic studies. The literature review was a background study for the Science of Generosity Request for Proposals, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. On this website we share the results of the literature review.

Rene Bekkers is an Associate Professor and Head of Research at the Department of Philanthropic Studies at the VU University Amsterdam. His current research takes a multidisciplinary approach to examine determinants and consequences of giving and volunteering, combining experiments and survey methodology. You can find more information about Rene Bekkers on his website.

Pamala Wiepking is working at the Department of Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, as an Assistant Professor. Her main research interests include the interdisciplinary explanations for international differences in pro-social behaviour. More information about Pamala’s research can be found on her website.


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