Who’s More Generous: You or Your Friends? - Data for Education
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Who’s More Generous: You or Your Friends?

Who’s More Generous: You or Your Friends?

What names make for the most generous donors across the US? In our day to day lives we have always wondered what were the most common names in my state? Or how many people share my name in the US? We started by asking the same questions in regard to our donors, but we also wanted to know how charitable they were. 

Let’s begin by taking a look at all of our donors, from all 50 states. Here are 10 most popular names:

top_donors_countsA quick look at our graph above tells us that 7 out of our 10 most popular names belong to women, and only three to men. I ask the reader to try to remember at least three names, these will appear over and over in future graphs: Jennifer, David, and John. Let’s call these three our main characters. The next question that springs to mind is: what are the names of our top 10 contributors? That is, what names hold the privilege of being the ones that gave the most in contributions:


  • The order has changed: just because there are more donors called Jennifer, it doesn’t mean that they have contributed the most. Jennifer, our most common name, has not contributed as much as David, our third most popular name.
  • Elizabeth and Robert appear in this new list, having replaced Amy and Sarah.
  • Our three main characters Jennifer, John and John, are still here, and it seems that our new champion is John, with Jennifer occupying a not so shabby number three, and John still hanging strong at number four.

But this is not the whole story, and there might be many reasons why this has changed. Every time we look at this kind of data we have to keep in mind some social factors surrounding our data. Here are a couple of thoughts and questions to consider:

  • Gender wage discrimination is one possible explanation. According to an article by Laura Bassett from The Huffington Post “women still earned 77 cents on men’s dollar in 2012”. This might be a reason as to why we now see David at the top of our list, and not, say, Jennifer.
  • There might be a multimillionaire named David among our donors who might have contributed a lot of money to DonorsChoose.org. When we look at aggregate data we need to watch out for these super-donors affecting the numbers (by the way, there were no super-Davids in the data analyzed)

To solve some of our previous questions, we could, for example, exclude those donors that are also teachers, or exclude all super-donors. We will leave the full analysis of such cases for a future occasion. Nonetheless, we will concentrate, from this point on, only on our 100 most popular names and their contributions in order to avoid high average payments coming from people with uncommon names who might cause some noise in our data (so, we must say goodbye to some really nice donors, like Davelin who appears only once in our database, with an average donation of $7,752 dollars, orRajusekar, with an average donation of $6,091 dollars).

The average contribution coming from our top 100 most popular names is $46.15 USD. Let’s see how our top 10 most popular names stack up against this average:



The blue line in the graph above denotes our global $46.15 USD donation average. We can see in this case that David, Michael, John, Susan, Mary,and Karen, contributed more than the average, whereas Jennifer, Lisa, Amy, and Sarah, did not. David, once again, takes the lead, being the one that contributed the most on the average and in total, with Michael and John in second and third place respectively.

Since we are taking a look at averages, one has to wonder which donors have the highest average contributions:


We can see that a huge shift has taken place, with men giving more on the average.. Although, one of our main characters, John, is nowhere to be seen here… That was Part 1 of “Who’s more generous: you or your friends?”, so stay tuned for more insights on names and generosity.

See your name on the list of the most generous characters? 
Check out the impact you’ve made.

Can’t find your name here?
Here’s your redemption: explore classroom projects.

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