Charity Appeal a Factor?

NPR released quite the unusual finding recently calculating the extrinsic influences on those donating to charities. While many people give to charities simply because they are magnanimous and want to contribute to societal reforms and general improvement in their world, an unorthodox study found men more likely to give to more to charities after seeing the large contributions of others, and when dealing with attractive fundraisers.

Peter Bouchard - London MarathonPublic online donations were solicited for the 2014 London Marathon in such a way that givers could see the charities of their choice, others who contributed and the amounts they gave. One more thing, anyone visiting a donation page could see the individual collecting funds on behalf of the organization. When others were influenced by large amounts previously given, they contributed an average of £10 more, but when others were influenced by an attractive figurehead they gave £28 more. What this means is competitiveness plays as great an integral role in the marketplace of charity as it does in the range of fields from for-profit businesses to sports matches.

Researchers involved asked contributors to rate the attractiveness of fundraisers before giving, and large amounts were recorded. Profile photos featuring attractive and friendly faces and smiles raised more money than others; men and women alike who displayed a genial appearance encouraged more generous donations. Among other things, this goes to show that interpersonal warmth is as important a factor to a team’s success as an attractive business model. Analogically, this suggests that on some levels it is important for an organization to present itself as it would to a potential partner, presenting itself as a suitable fit. The greatest level of competitiveness in donating came from men giving to charities represented by a female they recognized as pleasant and appealing implying evolutionary instinct may be more at play than one would originally think. Women did not show as much competition regarding organizations featuring a male figurehead, hinting at a different source of motivation to impress. Nichola Raihani, an evolutionary biologist at University College London who reviewed the study, explained that men want to donate to charity to seem caring and to show concern for social issues—a trait that is encouraged and admired in societies with money to give.