It may seem basic, but I didn't find it in a dictionary and I'm doubtful what it means.

I thought giving 'x' behavior is the same as behaving 'x'ly (e.g. giving a kind behavior, behaving kindly).

In the below context, however, it's used with no additional adjective ("Alumni Giving" in the title might be related too):

Winning and Giving: Football Results and Alumni Giving at Selective Private Colleges and Universities

Our central question is how changes in an institution's football success affect giving behavior. Also, we consider whether former varsity athletes are more or less sensitive in their giving behavior than other alumni to the competitive success of their school and whether such effects differ by type of institution.

(From https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/0038-4941.00061)

What does it mean in the above context? Looks like a noun phrase.

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    A quick google indicates that the phrase is used to mean the extent to which people donate, presumably to charities, in different circumstances. That's the only sense in which I understand it. The text you quote does not make clear whether this is indeed the case in this context.. Mar 2, 2022 at 19:32
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    @RonaldSole The title of the piece from which the quotation comes mentions 'alumni giving' at (presumably) American private colleges and universities. For these, donations from rich, and not so rich, former students (alumni) form an important part of their income. In 2018, Michael Bloomberg donated $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins. Alumni giving at U.S. colleges totalled more than $11 billion in 2019, according to research. Mar 2, 2022 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


Giving behavior is a noun adjunct phrase here. Behavior is the main noun, and giving is a modifier: The changes affect behavior. What kind of behavior? Behavior about giving.

I don't think it's a very well-written sentence, because the phrasing is a little confusing. We read "how changes in etc. etc. affect giving", which looks like giving is the subject, and then we encounter behavior, which makes us go back and re-evaluate the sentence.

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    IMO the next sentence is even worse: "'...whether former varsity athletes are more or less sensitive in their giving behavior than other alumni to the competitive success' whaaaat? Oh, I see—they're not "alumni to the success." It's asking whether athlete-alumni are sensitive to success, whether they are more sensitive than other alumni, and whether that sensitivity is expressed in their giving behavior. Ouch." Mar 2, 2022 at 21:24
  • Why should we read not well-written texts, in a college English course? Does it improve our writing too? Mar 2, 2022 at 21:32
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    The writing is perfectly cromulent, especially as it immediately follows the title, which states just as plainly what the topic is. One enhancement for the OP: giving behavior is technical jargon.
    – Yorik
    Mar 2, 2022 at 21:32

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