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Understanding donor response to donation appeals : the role of deservingness in the dictator game and optimum donation promises in charity auctions

Faculty Advisor




marketing research, fundraising strategies, charity

Abstract (summary)

Marketing research has attempted to shed light on donor responses to a variety of donation appeals and strategies. More recently, research has examined the effect of changing the content of an appeal in both a donation solicitation and a cause related marketing context. Some charities are highly successful with their marketing and fundraising strategies, while many others struggle to fund their services. This discrepancy in donor support is cause for concern from a public policy perspective, where optimizing the distribution of dollars is a key objective. Particularly in a recessionary economy, with more and more charities appealing to donors for their support, charity choice has become more crowded than ever before. The question of which charity is chosen and how much to ‘spend’ on that charity can determine which charities succeed and which ones fail, as donors become increasingly concerned with maximizing the impact of their donor dollars. I begin the dissertation with a thorough review of the relevant literature to provide a foundation and backdrop to the issues I study in two sets of studies. In the first set of studies, I examine deservingness of a recipient, where judgments are affected by the donation appeal content. Specifically, I look at how recipient information profiles can affect donor response. In the second set of studies, I examine donor response in a novel cause-related marketing format - online charity auctions – where I vary factors related to the auction products, price and the percentage of auction price that is donated to charity. These two papers contribute to the research in donor response to charity appeals by shedding light on the deliberative aspect of the decision process. Public policy and managerial implications are discussed, where an increasingly competitive environment with many comparative options are becoming standard challenges for charity fundraisers. A review of the relevant research areas for both papers precedes the studies to provide a foundation and motivation for our hypotheses and research designs.

Publication Information

Wong, Leo. "Understanding Donor Response to Donation Appeals: The Role of Deservingness in the Dictator Game and Optimum Donation Promises in Charity Auctions." PhD dissertation, University of Alberta, 2010.



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