Doing a good deed may help you look good

June 12th, 2009 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 12 (IANS) Finding it difficult to elicit donations for charitable causes due to the financial crisis? Worry not! Research from Tel Aviv University can provide you with a potent fundraising tool.
According to Dr. Anat Bracha of the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University, “charitable giving is a much greater sacrifice now than it was at this time last year. Budgets are tighter for everyone, so giving is likely to have greater image value. That’s why it can be important for organisations to emphasize the image benefits of charitable giving.”

Dr. Bracha’s research emphasizes “image motivation” which is the positive recognition a giver gets from other members of the community.

The research focused on the effects of participating in charitable events in a public and private setting. The study also examined two types of motivators - image and financial.

The first experiment took place at the MIT gym. A “Biking for Charity” scenario was created in which participants were invited to bike for ten minutes to earn money for a charitable cause based on the effort exerted. Some participants were also paid for their participation.

The ‘private’ setting biking scenario was on the third floor of a building.

According to Dr. Bracha, the research “demonstrated that giving was affected by how visible the participation was. The more public, the greater the image boost, and the greater the contribution.”

When monetary incentives were introduced, they were more effective in private than in public.

“Monetary and image motivations clashed” explained Dr. Bracha.

In the private scenario, participants biked more miles on average when they were paid to do so as they did not have to contend with social judgment. In contrast, in the public sphere people exerted the same level of effort on their stationary bikes with or without compensation. This was because they were aware that positive social acclaim might be undermined if viewers were aware of their personal monetary gain.

Dr. Bracha’s study was published in American Economic Review.

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