Saving a dog's life over a refugee- the charity marketing flaw

Authors: Best, E. and Costello, J.

Start date: 6 September 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78926-644-3

There is a reported decrease in public interest and engagement in charity work, with many academics blaming the use of charity appeals that use the emotions guilt and pity to drive donations. Even though the approach is heavily criticized, this technique is still prominent in advertisements. With UK citizens being statistically more likely to donate to save a dog's life over a refugee’s life, understanding how emotions may impact charitable giving may help non-profits in their marketing appeals for this important social issue. Consequently, this study examines the underlying motivations of individuals to engage in public service motivated acts through public service motivation theory (PSM) in order to impact charitable donations. Furthermore, we draws upon emotions of hope and happiness to see if it will influence the relation. Using a vignette survey based on Stanford’s 1997 public good game experiment, 328 respondents had the option to spend money on a dog rescue charity, a Syrian refugee charity and then decide amongst the two which to donate to. The study found a positive relation between PSM and monetary giving. However, the relations differed with individual PSM dimensions were taken into account across the two beneficiaries. Furthermore, when emotions were included in the moderation tests, results were contrary to what was expected. These findings suggest non-profit marketers target audiences with high levels of PSM, but that hope and happiness may not be effective emotions to generate donations.

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