Study Investigates Compassion Fatigue
15 December 2010 at 4:31 pm
A University of Queensland Business School study is set to explore ‘compassion fatigue’ and discover why people become numb to the marketing efforts of Not for Profit organisations
UQ Business School PhD researcher Christilene Du Plessis is attempting to redefine and measure compassion fatigue in cause-related marketing initiatives between Not for Profit and commercial organisations, in order to identify the point at which people stop giving and why.
Du Plessis is calling for managers from Not for Profit organisations and commercial organisations who partner with them to take part in the study.
Du Plessis says compassion fatigue is a well-documented phenomenon in professions such as emergency nursing or journalism where people become cynical, bored, anxious and discouraged due to an over-exposure to others' suffering.
She says the understanding in marketing however is fairly limited.
She says there is a correlation between the rise in the number of charities between 1994 and 2000, and a subsequent drop in the level of donations from 80 per cent to 66 per cent during that same period.
As a result, Du Plessis says many charities need to partner with commercial organisations.
She says that in the past 20 years there had been prolific use of marketing and advertising efforts like green marketing, corporate philanthropy and cause-related marketing, for example companies using pink products to raise money for breast cancer.
Corporate social responsibility is the fastest-growing sector in sponsorship, according to Du Plessis, who says she wants to see if the increasing number of cause-related marketing campaigns has also resulted in weary customers.
She says the study is seeking to find out at what point consumers become annoyed by charitable appeals and cause-related marketing.
Du Plessis says research has shown that people are more likely to donate to an appeal that uses no images, rather than an appeal that uses either images of malnourished children or smiling chubby children who have benefited from donations. That could be a sign that people are tired of this type of marketing.
Once interviews have been conducted with organisations involved in cause-related marketing as well as consumers, Du Plessis will use the findings to conduct experiments in attempting to avoid or overcome compassion fatigue.
Not for Profit managers and organisations that partner with charities/NFPs who would like to be a part of the research can email Christilene Du Plesssis at firstname.lastname@example.org