Motivating Factors for Giving
21 July 2011 at 11:32 am
People who see the “glass as half empty” may be more willing to contribute to a common goal if they already identify with it, according to researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, University of Chicago and Sungkyunkwan University.
According to the studies, individuals who already care a lot (highly identify) with a cause are more likely to financially support the cause if a solicitation is framed by how much is still needed (for example, “we still need $50,000 to reach our goal”).
However, if individuals care very little prior to a solicitation (low identify), they are more likely to contribute if they knew how much of the goal had already been met (for example, “we’ve raised $50,000 toward our goal”).
Psychologist Marlone Henderson, University of Texas at Austin, and co-authors professors Ayelet Fishbach, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Minjung Koo, Sungkyunkwan University SKK Graduate School of Business, will publish their findings in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
Henderson says the findings offer organisations several strategies to increase volunteering and donations and also imply that during times when prior contributions or donations by others are particularly salient in the public eye, organisations may take the opportunity to promote philanthropy by approaching those who identify less with the beneficiaries or with the helping group, thereby expanding their circle of potential donors.
Their studies measured contributions to goals centered on idea generation and helping victims of various disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti, wildfires in Southern California and riots in Kenya. Possible contributions to these causes include engaging in social movements, pledging to charity, volunteering for community outreach programs and generating ideas in team meetings.
Henderson says people ask themselves one of two questions when deciding whether to invest in one personal goal versus another. For people who didn’t already care that it’s something worth paying attention to and to get onboard they ask ‘is the goal worth pursuing?’. For people who already care: ‘Is this progressing at a pace I find sufficient?’ If not, it may be a signal to jump in and get involved.