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The Impact of Social Influence Techniques on Fund-Raising: A Field Experiment for the United Way

Public Policy Research has recently fielded a large experimental investigation of different fund-raising techniques for the Columbia-Willamette Chapter of United Way. Most philanthropic fund-raising campaigns employ a relatively straightforward informational approach which relies upon persuasive communication techniques. PPR compared the impact of this strategy with several recently developed social influence approaches in a direct mail campaign to over 4,000 recent non-donors to the United Way. Recipients of this mailer were divided into 16 different treatment distinguished on the basis of the content of the social influence approach used in the packet of material. The effect of these techniques on both the frequency and amount of donations will be compared with 4 different control groups of equal size who received several different variations of the standard informational appeal. The outcome of this project should provide evidence which will enable the United Way, as well as other philanthropic organizations, to improve their current fund-raising programs and develop promising new ones.

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The Relative Effectiveness of Three Compliance Techniques in Eliciting Donations to a Cultural Organization

To compare the effects of three social influence techniques during a museum fund-raising drive a field experiment was conducted in which individuals were asked to make a contribution as they entered the museum. The techniques were differentially effective in electing donations with the commitment procedure generally the most effective in terms of the amount of money contributed. This was followed in turn by the reciprocal concessions procedure and control conditions, with the foot-in-the-door condition the least effective in virtually every comparison. In the light of these results a number of recommendations for developing more effective fund raising programs were proposed.

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Promoting Charitable Behavior with Social Marketing Techniques

The effectiveness of three social marketing techniques on eliciting contributions to the American Cancer Society were compared in a door-to-door neighborhood fund raising campaign. The results indicated that under these conditions the reciprocal concessions procedure produced more money than any other technique. Individuals exposed to the commitment and control conditions contributed about equivalent amounts of money while the foot-in-the-door subjects contributed the least. The results of this experiment indicated there was both considerable practical value and some limitations in applying social marketing techniques to promote charitable behavior.

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Three Experiments on Applying Social Psychology to Charitable Donations

This project investigated how social psychology could be applied in promoting charitable giving to nonprofit organizations. Three field experiments were conducted during the ongoing fundraising activities of two such organizations. The direct mail experiments applied recent advances in our understanding of information processing to the informational appeal of each organization. The importance of vivid information and the dimension of control and choice were given enhanced prominence in their campaign materials. Compared to the standard fundraising practices of both organizations, these techniques had very little impact on either the number of contributors or the amount they contributed. These results suggested considerable caution in applying the dimension of control and choice to the impersonal direct mail fundraising situation.

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