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In the Netherlands large amounts of money are given to charity. During

the past ten years there has been a growing “charity market” with a yearly

increase in charitable donations. Only about 7% of the Dutch people

never contribute to charity. Population growth and the annual rise of net

income are some obvious explanations. But also when money gifts are

calculated as a fraction of the national income, a slight increase is visible

between 1995 and 1999 (T. Schuyt 2001). The Dutch give most to church

and ideological organizations (26%), then to health care (17%), international

help (16%), environment, nature, animal care (14%), sports and

recreation (12%), and societal (10%) organizations. From the work of

American authors likeWolfe (1989) andWuthnow (1991) it appears that

the growth of the “third sector” is not an exclusively Dutch phenomenon.

Unlike theNetherlands, however, in the United States a decline of money

gifts as percentage of the gross national product has been observed

(Putnam 2000).

In addition to population growth and income rise, the American sociologist

AlanWolfe (1989) suggests some other factors that might influence

people’s giving to charity – for instance, trust in the economy and strong

family and community ties.Thefact that during the past decade theDutch

economy has flourished as almost never before might partly explain the

Dutch generosity.Unfortunately, no research is available as yet that is able

to clarify the extent to which the increase of donations to charity is caused

by population growth, income level, the strength of community ties, the

growing number of charities, more aggressive tactics of appealing to

people’s willingness to donate money, economic developments, the type

of welfare state, or the level of state-based social security arrangements

(Esping-Andersen 1990).

ArecentDutchreport of the Social andCultural Planning Organisation

(SCP 1998) compares the number of members and donors of a range

of societal organizations from 1980 to 1996–1997. Although the number

of members of religious communities, women’s organizations, and

political parties has dropped, there is a substantial increase in the sector

“international solidarity” (for instance, organizations for medical help,

foster parents, ThirdWorld help organizations). As these data are based

on absolute numbers and as the Dutch population has increased substantially,

the picture is not entirely representative. Nevertheless, the authors

of the report conclude that these developments in gift giving in combinationwith

the increased membership of ideological organizations (see also

the next section) point to afir m sense of citizenship among the Dutch,

in our terms, of solidarity.