Giving to charity reflects our deepest values, but the choice of where and how much to give often takes place within a family budget. And research does show that tensions over money within a couple can be “pervasive, problematic, and recurrent, and … unresolved” (Papp et al. 2009).
So, what happens when couples decide where to give? Chris Einholf, Hillary Curran and Katie Brown interviewed 29 married couples and found that individuals most often decided separately about giving small amounts, but the couple decided jointly about larger gifts. Disagreements happened, often about the amount given in a large donation, and sometimes about the recipient organization, but not the amount for small ones.
That is, by the time the couple got to the point of making a larger gift, they had already resolved differences about whether that particular charity merited their support.
A common pattern is that when one person wanted to donate money (to be the “gas pedal”), the other would argue for not giving or not giving as much (to be the “brakes”).
How does it work in your household? In mine, I’m the gas pedal for giving (though the brakes for most other types of expenditures).