Moderating Effects of Religious Commitment on Consumer Donation Intentions

ABSTRACT - The purpose of this research was to examine how religious commitment (RC) moderates the attitudinal and normative components of the theory of reasoned action (TRA) with respect to consumer intentions to donate money and time to religious organizations. Structural equation modeling was employed to evaluate the theoretical model using a second order factor model. A multi-sample analysis technique was then used to test the moderating effect of RC on the TRA framework. The results suggested that attitudes toward giving (Ag) had greater influence on giving intentions (GI) for consumers high in RC than for consumers low in RC, whereas subjective norms (SNg) had greater influence on giving intentions (GI) for consumers low in RC than for consumers high in RC.



Citation:

Nuchai Chuchinprakarn, Thomas V. Greer, and Janet Wagner (1998) ,"Moderating Effects of Religious Commitment on Consumer Donation Intentions", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, eds. Kineta Hung and Kent B. Monroe, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 155-161.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, 1998      Pages 155-161

MODERATING EFFECTS OF RELIGIOUS COMMITMENT ON CONSUMER DONATION INTENTIONS

Nuchai Chuchinprakarn, University of Maryland, U.S.A.

Thomas V. Greer, University of Maryland, U.S.A.

Janet Wagner, University of Maryland, U.S.A.

ABSTRACT -

The purpose of this research was to examine how religious commitment (RC) moderates the attitudinal and normative components of the theory of reasoned action (TRA) with respect to consumer intentions to donate money and time to religious organizations. Structural equation modeling was employed to evaluate the theoretical model using a second order factor model. A multi-sample analysis technique was then used to test the moderating effect of RC on the TRA framework. The results suggested that attitudes toward giving (Ag) had greater influence on giving intentions (GI) for consumers high in RC than for consumers low in RC, whereas subjective norms (SNg) had greater influence on giving intentions (GI) for consumers low in RC than for consumers high in RC.

In the fifteen years since Sherry (1983) introduced his seminal model, gift-giving has emerged as a major research area in consumer behavior. One topic given short shrift in gift-giving research has been charitable behavior, including consumer donations of money and time to religious groups. Neglect of donations to religious organizations is consistent with our discipline’s tendency to avoid research involving any aspect of religion. This tendency is unfortunate because religion is important in the lives of many U.S. consumers. In fact, the U.S. is reported to be the most religious of the Western industrialized nations. The results of recent surveys by the Gallup organization show that 94% of Americans believe in God, 90% pray, and 75% report their experiences with religion to have been positive (Gallup and Castelli 1989). Sixty-four percent report belonging to a church, synagogue, or mosque, and 35% report attending regularly. In addition, Americans report donating more money and time to religious groups than to any other type of charity. In 1994, religious groups were the recipients of 62% of all money ($53.2 billion) and 19% of all time (valued at $34.6 billion) donated (Hodgkinson et al. 1995) to charitable oganizations.

The purpose of our research was to study consumer donations of money and time to religious organizations, using Fishbein and Ajzen’s (1975) theory of reasoned action as a theoretical framework. Our objective was to analyze the moderating effect of religious commitment on consumers’ intentions to give. To meet our objective, we used a structural equation model with a multisample analysis technique.

The results of our research should be of interest to scholars and leaders of religious organizations. In deference to scholars, we explore the psychological dimensions of the Sherry (1983) model by focusing on gestation, the first stage of the consumer gift-giving process. We also extend research on consumer gift-giving into several new domainsCfrom gifts of objects to donations of money and time, from gift exchange by individuals to gifts given by individuals to charitable organizations, and from secular to religious giving. For religious organizations, we offer insight into factors affecting members’ donation intentions by focusing on religious commitment as a moderator of intentions to donate money and time. As government programs are reduced and eliminated, many religious organizations face more demand for their humanitarian services. Growth in demand comes at a time when the percentage of households donating to religious groups is declining (Hodgkinson et al. 1995). To survive and fulfill their charitable missions, it is essential that religious organizations attend to factors influencing members’ donation decisions. While marketing has been widely accepted by many charitable organizations, religious groups have been slow to adopt a marketing orientation. As interest in marketing grows among religious groups, information on factors influencing donation decisions may be valuable in developing communication programs to attract more gifts of money and time.

CONCEPTUAL BACKGROUND

Consumer Giving and the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA)

According to Sherry (1983), the gift-giving process has three componentsCthe gift, the gift-giving relationship, and situational conditions. The gift may be any resource, tangible or intangible. As such, gifts are not limited to objects, but may include money, time, love, respect, or friendship. In the gift-giving relationship, donors and recipients may be either individuals or organizations. While the most common gift-giving relationship is between two individuals, giving is also common between individuals and organizations, including religious groups. Sherry (1983, p.161) notes that such relationships are "less frequently described and less perfectly understood" than others.

Gift-giving relationships are governed by reciprocity, that is, donors expect to give, receive, and return gifts. In religious giving, the most common gifts are money and time (Hodgkinson et al. 1995). However, donors to religious groups may not expect such gifts to be returned in kind. Rather, they may expect a return in the form of intangible resources. The nature of the return may depend on situational conditions, including the donor’s motive for giving, which may range from altruism to agonism. While altruism is a central tenet of many religions, Payton (1989) suggests that motives for religious giving are often mixed. If altruism is the dominant motive, then the expected return may be either personal or spiritual. If, on the other hand, agonism (self-aggrandizeent) is dominant, then the expected return is more likely to be social or egoistic.

The focus of our research was gestation, the first stage of the gift-giving process. In gestation, the consumer decides what to give, how much to give, and how frequently to give (Sherry 1983). The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) suggests that in gestation consumer giving intentions (GI) may be affected by attitudes toward giving (Ag) and subjective norms toward giving (SNg) (Fishbein and Ajzen 1975). The relative importance of Ag and SNg may vary, depending on the consumer’s motive for giving. However, both variables are assumed to influence actual giving (G) through giving intention (GI). In consumer giving research, results show that Ag has more influence than SNg on consumer intentions to donate blood (Burnkrant and Page 1982). This research was recently extended by Bagozzi, Lee, and Van Loo (1996) to intentions to donate bone marrow. To date, there has been no research based on the TRA in the context of religious giving.

The TRA and Religious Commitment (RC)

Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) suggest that consumer characteristics external to the TRA may moderate the effect of Ag and SNg on giving intention (GI). Indeed, the results of previous research confirm the moderating effect of personal characteristics on intentions to purchase products (Bearden and Rose 1990) and use coupons (Bagozzi, Baumgartner, and Yi 1992). In recent research, Bagozzi et al. (1996) demonstrated that ethnicity is a moderator of intentions to donate bone marrow. In the case of giving to a religious organization, one personal characteristic that may moderate the effects of Ag and SNg on intentions to give money and time is religious commitment.

Religious commitment (RC) is similar to involvement, in that it represents the importance of religious beliefs and practices to the consumer. Consumers who are high in RC have strong religious beliefs and practice religion frequently. They are more likely to be motivated to give by belief in altruism (Batson, Schoenrade, and Pych 1985), a central tenet of most religions. Consumers who are low in RC, have weaker beliefs and practice religion less frequently. They are more likely to be motivated to give by social concerns, such as conformity or status (Payton 1989), which are peripheral to religious beliefs.

Consequently, we expected RC to moderate the effects of Ag and SNg on GI. We expected that Ag would have a stronger effect on the GI of consumers high in RC, whereas SNg would have a stronger effect on the GI of consumers low in RC. We proposed the following hypotheses.

H1:  Attitude toward giving (Ag) will influence intentions to donate money and time (GI) to a greater degree for consumers high in religious commitment (RC) than for consumers low in religious commitment (RC).

H2:  Subjective norms toward giving (SNg) will influence intentions to donate money and time (GI) to a greater degree for consumers low in religious commitment (RC) than for consumers high in religious commitment (RC).

METHOD

Sample

Our sampling frame was composed of the faculty and staff of a major university in the mid-Atlantic region, as listed in its Faculty-Staff Directory 1994-1995. A systematic random sample of 1,015 subjects was drawn from a total of 7,105.

Questionnaire and Measures

The questionnaire primarily contained measures used in past research. A definition of religious organization was given at the beginning of the questionnaire. Respondents were instructed to read the definition first before proceeding. The questionnaire was pretested with faculty and staff (other than participants) to ensure that all questions were understandable.

Measures of the relevant constructs are described below.

The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA). We used attitudinal scales similar to those of Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) and Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) to measure each of the four aspects of religious giving: 1) amount of money given; 2) frequency of giving money; 3) amount of time volunteered; 4) frequency of volunteering time. Respondents were asked to use four seven-point indicators, anchored good/bad, desirable/undesirable, important/unimportant, and meaningful/meaningless, in response to the following statements: "My 1) giving a generous amount of money to.., 2) making frequent gifts of money to.., 3) volunteering a generous amount of time to.., and 4) volunteering time frequently to.. religious organizations is..."

SNg with respect to each of the four aspects of religious giving was measured using three seven-point indicators. The first indicator was similar to that of Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) and Fisbein and Ajzen (1975). Respondents responded to the statements: "Most people who are important to me think I definitely should/should not 1) give a generous amount of money to.., 2) make frequent gifts of money to.., 3) volunteer a generous amount of time to.., and 4) volunteer time frequently to.. religious organizations." The next two indicators were composed of two bipolar indicators (useful/useless and essential/non-essential) in response to the following statements: "Most people who are important to me probably consider my 1) giving a generous amount of money to.., 2) making frequent gifts of money to.., 3) volunteering a generous amount of time to.., and 4) volunteering time frequently to.. religious organizations to be..."

GI for each of the three aspects of religious giving was measured using scales in which respondents were asked to use three seven-point indicators, anchored by likely/unlikely, probable/improbable, and certain/uncertain, in response to the following statements: "I intend to, 1) give a generous amount of money to.., 2) make frequent gifts of money to.., 3) volunteer a generous amount of time to.., 4) volunteer time frequently to.. religious organizations."

Religious Commitment (RC). We used a nine-indicator scale from Gorsuch and Venable (1983) to measure religious commitment which has been described as an "excellent" uniimensional measure (Donahue 1985).

Demographic Information. Respondents were asked to report gender, age, work status, income, education, marital status, ethnicity, membership in a religious group, and denominational affiliation.

Data Collection

Subjects were sent packets that included the questionnaire, a cover letter, and a preaddressed envelope for return of the completed instrument through campus mail. Attached to each questionnaire was a reply form, to be filled out and returned with the completed instrument if a respondent wished to be included in a drawing for one of three gift certificates to a local department store. In the cover letter, we explained the purpose of our research and assured subjects of confidentiality. Two weeks after the initial mailing, follow-up letters with new questionnaires were sent to nonrespondents.

Packets were successfully delivered to 976 subjects. Of the 456 subjects who responded, 303 reported being members of religious organizations. Thirty-five were eliminated because of incomplete responses, leaving a sample of 268 responses, an effective 27% response rate.

Three hundred and sixty nonrespondents were sent short questionnaires requesting demographic information. An analysis of the 45 usable responses showed no difference between respondents and nonrespondents in age, income, education, or proportion by gender or denomination. Consequently, nonresponse bias appeared not to be a problem.

ANALYSES AND RESULTS

Descriptive Statistics

The results show the mean and median age of our respondents to be 44 and 43, with mean and median income of $49,665 and $48,000, and mean and median education of 17 and 18 years. Fifty-eight percent of respondents were female and 42% were male, with 31% faculty, 68% staff, and 1% "other." Fifty-three percent reported being Protestant, 31% Catholic, 9% Jewish, and 7% "other." In addition, 21% of our respondents were single, 68% married, 8% divorced or separated, and 3% widowed. Seventy-two percent identified themselves as European-American, 14% as African-American, 6% as Asian, 2% as Hispanic, and 6% as "other."

Data Transformation

We checked the assumption of normality by examining the histogram, box, and normal probability plots of all items measuring Ag, SNg, and GI (16 items for Ag, 12 for SNg, and 12 for GI). For items with skewed distributions, we used a power transformation technique of y(l) (Johnson and Wichern 1992) to reduce skewness, assigning values of 1.5, 2, or 3 to l, depending on how skewed the distributions were.

Model Specification

To investigate the multidimensional nature of religious giving, we used a second order factor model. The second order factors were constructs representing attitudes toward religious giving (Ag), subjective norms toward religious giving (SNg), and giving intentions (GI). The two first order factors were the money (M) and time (T) dimensions of religious giving, each of which was measured by amount given (g1 and g3) and frequency of giving (g2 and g4).

Model Estimation and Evaluation

LISREL VII (J÷reskog and S÷rbom 1989) was employed to evaluate the second order factor model. We linearly transformed the indicators to make the numbers smaller and more manageable, then generated the covariance matrix and used it as input for model estimation and evaluation.

Measurement Model. To analyze reliability and validity, we tested the measurement model (referred to as the base model in our discriminant validity analysis) by using confirmatory factor analysis. We treated the three latent constructs of Ag, SNg, and GI as exogenous variables and allowed them to covary. Then, we fixed the variances of the individual exogenous variables as well as the variances of all zetas (z’s) at 1.0. Finally, we performed the confirmatory factor analysis. The indicator reliabilities exceeded 0.8 for all but GI2, which had a reliability of 0.771. The composite reliabilities of the first order factors and latent constructs ranged from 0.863 to 0.961, with most exceeding 0.9.

All the lambdas (l’s) and gammas (g’s) of indicators and first order factors in the model were highly significant (p<0.001 for each parameter). As a result, our model appeared to have convergence in measurement (Bagozzi 1981).

Following Phillips (1981), we tested discriminant validity among the three latent constructs of Ag, SNg, and GI by comparing the base model with the test model. In the test model, we constrained each of the intercorrelations (f) to be 1.0 and then examined the differences in c2 to see if they were significant. The results showed that the difference in c2 with one degree of freedom between attitudes (Ag) and subjective norms (SNg) was 102.63, between attitudes (Ag) and giving intentions (GI) was 52.98, and between subjective norms (SNg) and giving intentions (GI) was 73.99. All differences in c2 were highlysignificant (p<0.001), suggesting the presence of discriminant validity among the three latent constructs.

Theoretical Model. The Figure represents the theoretical model for the second order factor model used in the analysis.

Parameter estimates resulting from the simultaneous equation analysis are presented in Table 1. As shown in the Table, the coefficients of the Ag ¦GI and SNg¦GI paths were significant. The conventional fit indices of c2, GFI, AGFI, and RMSR are presented in Table 2.

Because the c2 statistic was significant, the covariances reproduced by the hypothesized model appeared to differ from the observed covariances. However, Hu and Bentler (1995) suggest considering the degree of fit rather than using the c2 statistic as a decision rule to accept or reject. Consequently, we used the less biased indices of BL89 (D2), TLI (r2), and CFI. The results are reported in Table 2. The BL89 (D2), TLI (r2), and CFI values were all above 0.9, indicating a good fit for the model. These fit indices suggested that the hypothesized model for the second order factor model provided an excellent degree of improvement over the null model.

Multisample Analysis

We performed an exploratory factor analysis on the nine indicators representing religious commitment (RC). The results suggested that RC is unidimensional: the eigenvalue was 3.653, representing 88.49% of the total variance, and the indicators had a Cronbach alpha of 0.85, suggesting good reliability. We created a single indicator for RC by summing the scores of the original indicators, included it in the second order factor model, and tested for discriminant validity among the four constructsCRC, Ag, SNg, and GI. The variances of the four constructs were fixed at 1.0 and allowed to covary, and the variances of all zetas (z’s) were fixed at 1.0. We then performed the confirmatory factor analysis and obtained a confidence interval of plus or minus two standard errors around the correlation for each pair of latent constructs. None of the confidence intervals included 1.0, establishing discriminant validity (Anderson 1987).

To test the moderating effect of RC on the impact of Ag and SNg on GI, we split the sample into two subsamples, based on its median value: a high RC group with 136 subjects and a low RC groups with 132 subjects. Then, we tested the equality of factor loadings of the two subsamples by testing the equality of factor structures (Lx(1)=Lx(2)) (J÷reskog and S÷rbom 1989). We compared the total c2 value obtained from the unconstrained model, where the factor loadings of the two subsamples were freely estimated, with that from the constrained model, where the factor loadings were constrained to be equal across the two subsamples. The difference in the total c2 between the two models was 7.13 (203.22B196.09) with 6 d.f. (84B78), which was not significant (c2 critical=10.6, d.f.=6), indicating that the factor loadings were equal across the two subsamples.

To test H1 and H2, an unconstrained model, based on the second order factor structure, was freely estimated for the high RC and low RC group. Multiple fit indices suggested an acceptable fit for both subsamples (see Table 2). Then, we obtained the total c2 value from the unconstrained model. Finally, we constructed a constrained model, where each of the two ausal paths (Ag¦GI and SNg¦GI) was constrained to be equal across the two subsamples, and compared its total c2 with that from the unconstrained model. The results are reported in Table 3.

H1 stated that attitude toward giving (Ag) will influence intentions to donate money and time (GI) to a greater degree for consumers high in RC than for consumers low in RC. To test this hypothesis, we constrained the path of Ag¦GI to be equal across the two subsamples and obtained the total c2. The difference in c2 between the constrained and unconstrained models was 4.05 (304.44B300.39) with one degree of freedom (91B90), which was significant at 0.05 level (c2 critical=3.84, d.f.=1). This result supports H1.

H2 stated that subjective norms toward giving (SNg ) will influence intentions to donate money and time (GI) to a greater degree for consumers low in RC than for consumers high in RC. To test this hypothesis, we constrained the path of SNg ¦GI to be equal across the two subsamples and obtained the total c2. The difference in c2 between the constrained and unconstrained models was 7.49 (307.88B300.39) with one degree of freedom (91B90), which was significant at 0.01 level (c2 critical=6.63, d.f.=1). This result supports H2.

TABLE 1

PARAMETER ESTIMATES OF THE MODEL

TABLE 2

GOODNESS-OF-FIT INDICES

TABLE 3

THE MULTI-SAMPLE ANALYSES

DISCUSSION

At a conceptual level, the major contribution of our research is to development of the Sherry (1983) model of consumer gift-giving. We used Fishbein and Ajzen’s (1975) theory of reasoned action (TRA) as a framework for studying gestation, the first stage of the gift-giving process. By focusing on religious giving, we extended research on gift-giving in three waysCfrom gifts of objects to donations of money and time, from the exchange of gifts between individuals to the giving of gifts by individuals to charitable organizations, and from secular to religious giving. Our methodological contribution was the use of a second order factor simultaneous equation model with a multi-sample analysis technique (J÷reskog and S÷rbom 1989) to test for the moderating effect of religious commitment.

Our results show that religious commitment (RC) moderates the effect of attitude (Ag) and subjective norms (SNg) with respect to consumer intentions to give money and time (GI) to religious groups. At high levels of RC, Ag appears to have more influence on GI, whereas at low levels of RC, SNg seems to have more influence.

Our results may be subject to several limitations. First, our sample was based on faculty and staff members of a major university, so the generalizability of the results may be limited. A second limitation may be the effective response rate of 27%. Finally, our results may be limited by our focus on intentions to donate, rather than actual donations. Given the paucity of research on consumer giving to religious organizations, the relationship between intention to donate and actual donation is a topic for future research.

The Sherry (1983) model suggests numerous possibilities for future research on religious giving. Sherry observes that in gestation, elicitation by the recipient may be important. In the context of religious giving, intentions to donate may be formed as a result of solicitation by the religious organization. Little is known about the relationship between consumer characteristics, such as religious commitment, and the effectiveness of solcitation techniques, such as direct mail, telephone, or personal visits. Source effects may also be operative: Are members at high or low levels of religious commitment more or less likely to be influenced by a visit from a fellow congregant or a member of the clergy? Group membership is also a consumer characteristic that may influence consumer intentions to donate. In surveys of religious giving, both race and denominational affiliation have been shown to affect donations of money and time (Hodgkinson et al. 1995). This suggests the possibility of extending the research of Bagozzi et al. (1996) from how ethnicity moderates decisions to donate bone marrow to how race and denominational affiliation moderate decisions to give to religious organizations.

The actual donation of money and time occurs during prestation, the second stage of the gift-giving process. Prestation might be studied across situations. Donations of money might be examined in the context of religious services, annual fundraising drives, special outreach offerings, and capital improvement campaigns. Volunteering of time might be examined in the context of in-house shelters for the homeless, religious education, social activities, and organizational governance. Research on prestation may be amenable to either participant observation or experimental studies involving hypothetical cases.

Reformulation, the third stage of the gift-giving process, is the stage in which donors reevaluate the gift-giving relationship, based on how recipients respond to their gifts. According to Sherry (1983), donations by individuals to organizations are often not acknowledged or are acknowledged in an impersonal way. One avenue of research would be to explore the effect of such impersonality on donation intentions and to investigate the effect of more personalized acknowledgements on intentions to donate.

The results of our research also make a substantive contribution, by suggesting strategies for religious leaders to follow in enhancing donations to their organizations. Our results suggest that members of religious groups may be segmented according to levels of religious commitment. Members at high levels of commitment, whose intentions to give are influenced more strongly by attitude, may be motivated to give by appeals to their altruistic and humanitarian values. Members at low levels of commitment, whose intentions to give are influenced more strongly by subjective norms, may be motivated to give by appeals to their need for prestige and social approval.

FIGURE

THE SECOND ORDER FACTOR MODEL OF RELIGIOUS GIVING

CONCLUSION

As government programs are reduced and eliminated, religious institutions may face more demand for their services. Without increasing donations of money and time, they may be unable to fulfill their missions of meeting the social and humanitarian needs of the community. The results of our study offer direction to religious leaders for enhancing donations, by providing insight on the relationship between levels of religious commitment and motivation to give money and volunteer time. Our results also present a challenge to consumer researchers to pursue additional research in the domain of religious giving.

REFERENCES

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Anderson, James C. (1987), "An Approach for Confirmatory Measurement and Structural Equation Modeling of Organizational Properties," Management Science, 33 (April), 525- 541.

Bagozzi, Richard P. (1981), "Evaluating Structural Equation Models with Unobservable Variables and Measurement Error: A Comment," Journal of Marketing Research, 18 (August), 375-381.

Bagozzi, Richard P., Hans Baumgartner, and Youjae Yi (1992), "State versus Action Orientation and the Theory of Reasoned Action: An Application to Coupon Usage," Journal of Consumer Research, 18 (March), 505-518.

Bagozzi, Richard P., Kam-hon Lee, and M. Frances Van Loo (1996), "Decisions to Donate Bone Marrow: The Role of Attitudes and Subjective Norms Across Cultures," Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for Consumer Research, Tucson, Arizona, October 10-13.

Batson, C. D., P. A. Schoenrade, and V. Pych (1985), "Brotherly Love or Self-Concern? Behavioural Consequences of Religion," in Advances in the Psychology of Religion, ed. L. B. Brown, Oxford: Pergamon Press, 185-208.

Bearden, William O. and Randall L. Rose (1990), "Attention to Social Comparison Information: An Individual Difference Factor Affecting Consumer Conformity," Journal of Consumer Research, 16 (March), 461-471.

Burnkrant, Robert E. and Thomas J. Page, Jr. (1982), "An Examination of the Convergent, Discriminant, and Predictive Validity of Fishbein’s Behavioral Intention Model," Journal of Marketing Research, 19 (November), 550-561.

Donahue, Michael J. (1985), "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Religiousness: The Empirical Research," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 24 (December), 418-423.

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Hodgkinson, Virginia A., Heather A. Gorski, Stephen M. Noga, and E.B. Knauft (1995), Giving and Volunteering in the United States, Vol. II, Washington, D.C.: Independent Sector.

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----------------------------------------

Authors

Nuchai Chuchinprakarn, University of Maryland, U.S.A.
Thomas V. Greer, University of Maryland, U.S.A.
Janet Wagner, University of Maryland, U.S.A.



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3 | 1998



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