Charitable Giving: How Framing Amount Raised Influences Donations
When attempting to solicit donations, fundraisers must consider how their campaign is portrayed. The goal gradient effect suggests that people tend to accelerate towards a goal the closer they get to achieving that goal. Additionally, people often care about not only the absolute distance from a goal, but also the percentage of the goal that is completed. This study analyzes the interaction between the size of the campaign goal, the nearness to completion of the goal, and whether the amount already raised is represented as a percent or in absolute dollars. This paper includes two separate surveys: the first survey asked 68 college students to distribute $1,000 between four fundraisers, which included 2 each of small/large goal sizes, each of which was characterized as either near or far from the goal. The description of the amount raised (either as a percent or in absolute dollars) was varied between-subjects. An analysis of variance showed the only significant result to be a main effect of size, with smaller campaigns receiving more donations. The second survey was similar, but used a forced-choice method, with 62 college students being required to pick only 1 fundraiser to which they would donate $250. Again, only the main effect of size was significant. However, responses to an open-ended question in survey 2 indicate that future research in this area is necessary to better understand the interaction between the goal gradient effect and fundraising.