This article explores the role of different social groups in early modern Dutch towns in organising and financing poor relief. Examining both the income structure of Dutch urban poor relief organisations and voluntary donations and bequests by citizens reveals what motivations lay behind their involvement, and how and why these changed over time. In the seventeenth century, ‘middle groups’ donated more often and higher mean amounts, reflecting their efforts to contribute to urban community building. In the eighteenth century, the elite became relatively more involved in charitable giving. Also, the urge to give to one’s own religious group seems to have increased in this period.