“Start with the Cause: How Constructing Charity Portfolios Affects the Pain of Paying and Total Contributions Made”
by Nazlı Gürdamar Okutur
London Business School
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How does the manner in which people construct donation portfolios affect the amount of money they choose to give? Nine studies (N = 5,635) show that when donating to multiple charities, individuals contribute more money when they first identify which charities to support in advance of determining how much money to allocate than vice versa. This effect holds regardless if charity options are selected from a list (Studies 1, 2, 3a, 4, 5) or are self-determined (Studies 3b, 6a, 6b, 7), and does not go away when participants deliberate over the worthiness of each charity option in advance (Study 5). Rather, the authors propose that individuals feel greater pain in parting with their money when the target charities are not yet determined, causing them to donate less than they would after they have actively determined their target charities (Studies 6a, 6b, 7). The authors discuss the importance of accounting for the pain of paying when developing theoretical accounts of charitable giving and additionally propose recommendations to choice architects and practitioners in the design of fundraising platforms.