BEER-SHEVA, Israel, October 28, 2021 – Donors are likely to contribute more online over the long term if they’re encouraged to share their opinion about a campaign and become emotionally engaged before solicited, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers.
Raising donations online has become an increasingly popular strategy, with many organizations recruiting donors primarily through email campaigns and click-through banners on websites.
The study, published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, suggests that soliciting an opinion about a campaign, and then asking for a donation, is potentially more effective than merely asking for a donation upfront.
In the study, 504 U.S. participants were told a laboratory was collaborating with the hypothetical association “Cancer Research” to help children in the USA and worldwide. Next, they were randomly assigned to one of two groups, based on the type of appeal: Participants in the Donation Group were told the association was running a new campaign to help sick children, and that they would have the opportunity to donate. Participants in the Opinion Group were told the association was running a new campaign to help sick children, and they would have an opportunity to express their opinion about it.
In all three experiments overall, the Opinion Group consistently showed greater willingness to donate, gave larger donations and expressed greater emotion and connection as well as feeling valued. (See Table 1)
“A nonprofit organization’s success depends mainly on the strategies it uses to recruit new donors,” says Professor Tehila Kogut, of BGU’s Department of Education and Decision Making and Economic Psychology Center. “This study explored a fundamental, yet overlooked, approach to making decisions about donations. Our research shows that changing the way a donation appeal is presented, and making someone feel that their voice matters, can motivate a potential donor to engage with a cause and want to know more about it.”
The study also confirmed that reading about and engaging with a charity boosted a donor’s emotional reactions toward the plight of those in need ─ particularly feelings of compassion, distress, and sympathy ─ which, in turn, corresponded with greater donations.
Former BGU postdoctoral student Dr. Andrea Pittarello, now a faculty member at Virginia Tech, worked with Prof. Kogut on the study.
Journal of Business and Psychology
Method of Research
Subject of Research
To Ask or Not to Ask: Enhancing Donations to Nonprofits by Soliciting Opinions Upfront, Rather than Donations
Article Publication Date