Skip to main content

How proof of previous donations influences compliance with a donation request: three field experiments

Abstract

The purpose of these three experiments was to determine whether the visibility of previous donations to a humanitarian cause influences people’s donation to the same cause. In Study 1, conducted in bakeries, a donation box was placed near the cash register with a message soliciting donations for a humanitarian project. The moneybox was transparent or not. Results show that more donations were placed in the transparent moneybox. Study 2 replicated these findings using face-to-face interaction. In Study 3, participants were solicited at home for a clothing donation, and the research assistant held a bag containing several items of clothing or none. It was reported that more participants donated when they saw several garments in the bag. Social proof is used to explain the results reported, and the practical interest of making visible people’s donations in humanitarian fundraising solicitation is discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Bégin, G. (1978). Sex makes a difference: 1. Evidence from a modeling study conducted in a natural setting. Psychological Reports, 43, 103–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Choukas-Bradley, S., Giletta, M., Cohen, G. L., & Prinstein, M. J. (2015). Peer influence, peer status, and prosocial behavior: an experimental investigation of peer socialization of adolescents' intentions to volunteer. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 44, 2197–2210.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Cialdini, R. B. (2008). Influence: science and practice. New York: Allyn and Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cialdini, R., Demaine, L., Sagarin, B., Barrett, D., Rhoads, K., & Winter, P. (2006). Managing norms for persuasive impact. Social Influence, 1, 3–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8, 377–383.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Darlington, R. B., & Macker, C. E. (1966). Displacement of guilt-produced altruistic behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 442–443.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Fischer, P., Krueger, J., Greitemeyer, T., Kastenmüller, A., Vogrincic, C., Frey, D., & Kainbacher, M. (2011). The bystander-effect: a meta-analytic review on bystander intervention in dangerous and non-dangerous emergencies. Psychological Bulletin, 137, 517–537.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Goldstein, N. J., Cialdini, R. B., & Griskevicius, V. (2008). A room with a viewpoint: using social norms to motivate environmental conservation in hotels. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 472–482.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Guéguen, N. (2007). The effect of modeling on tipping behavior. Studia Psychologica, 49, 275–282.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Harris, M. B., & Samerotte, G. C. (1976). The effects of actual and attempted theft, need, and a previous favor on altruism. The Journal of Social Psychology, 99, 193–202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Lerner. (1980). The belief in a just world: a fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  12. Pandey, J., & Griffitt, W. (1977). Benefactor's sex and nurturance need, recipient's dependency, and the effect of number of potential helpers on helping behavior. Journal of Personality, 45, 79–99.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Phillips, D. P. (1974). The influence of suggestion on suicide: substantive and theoretical implications of the Werther effect. American Sociological Review, 39, 340–354.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Regan, J. W. (1971). Guilt, perceived injustice, and altruistic behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 18, 124–132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Regan, D. T., Williams, M., & Sparling, S. (1972). Voluntary expiation of guilt: a field experiment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 42–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Ross, A. S. (1970). The effect of observing a helpful model on helping behavior. The Journal of Social Psychology, 81, 131–132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Salmon, S. J., De Vet, E., Adriaanse, M. A., Fennis, B. M., Veltkamp, M., & De Ridder, D. (2015). Social proof in the supermarket: promoting healthy choices under low self-control conditions. Food Quality and Preference, 45, 113–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Stack, S. (2000). Media impacts on suicide: a quantitative review of 293 findings. Social Science Quarterly, 81, 957–971.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Zener-Solomon, L., & Grota, P. (1976). Imitation of a helpful model: the effect of level of emergency. The Journal of Social Psychology, 99, 29–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nicolas Guéguen.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jacob, C., Guéguen, N. & Boulbry, G. How proof of previous donations influences compliance with a donation request: three field experiments. Int Rev Public Nonprofit Mark 15, 1–8 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12208-017-0187-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Social proof
  • Donation
  • Fundraising