Understanding Donation Behavior: Strategic Implications From Consumer Research


James W. Peltier, April Atwood, and Lynora Bayless (1993) ,"Understanding Donation Behavior: Strategic Implications From Consumer Research", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 437.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, 1993      Page 437


James W. Peltier, University of Wisconsin Whitewater

April Atwood, University of Washington

Lynora Bayless, United Way of Southern Nevada

Tracy Bier, Puget Sound Blood Center

William Carter, School of Business, University of Washington

Catherine Cole, University of Iowa

Mary Huneke, University of Iowa

Patrick Murphy, University of Notre Dame

Dee Myer, Puget Sound Blood Center

John A. Schibrowsky, University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Sandra Tausend, Puget Sound Blood Center


Donations are the life-blood of altruistic cause organizations like the United Way, the American Cancer Society, and the American Red Cross. Unfortunately, numerous barriers exist that make it difficult for charitable organizations to motivate and understand gift-giving behavior. Specifically, recent economic downturns, perceived funds mismanagement and abuse, AIDS and other health effects have become major concerns for potential monetary and blood donors.

It is clear that consumer research can provide meaningful guidance to better understand the nature and scope of the altruism process. The session addressed three key topics that are important to the development of successful charitable campaigns. These topics included: 1) understanding the donation process; 2) researching key experimental manipulations; and 3) turning research into action.

Understanding The Donation Process

The findings from two unpublished studies designed to identify the key factors underlying the donation process were presented. In the Peltier and Schibrowsky study, a comprehensive model containing various dimensions that proportedly influence the decision to donate money was constructed and tested. In their presentation, special attention was given to the discussion of the psychological, attitudinal, sociological, economical, demographical, and behavioral dimensions that differentiate donors from nondonors, and high donors from low donors. The Atwood et. al. study used a different approach to attempt to identify the key dimensions underlying the donation process. Here, a behavioral decision model for predicting the nature and extent of repeat blood donations was developed and tested.

Researching Key Experimental Manipulations

The Cole et. al. presentation examined the effect of emotional and informational direct mail appeals on cognitive responses, attitudes toward the ad, and intentions to donate blood. They drew upon research on emotional advertising to predict whether donors and nondonors differ in their responsiveness to appeal types.

Turning Research Into Action

Lynora Bayless, Senior Vice-President of Market Research and Donor Services at the United Way of Las Vegas served as the discussant. She discussed the transition from studying the donation process, and testing experimental manipulation, to developing marketing strategies based on these findings. She discussed how the United Way of Las Vegas has taken a research perspective, and how this orientation has contributed to their success as one of the top United Way agencies. She concluded with a discussion of how important it is for academics to become involved in helping their local charitable organizations with their research needs.



James W. Peltier, University of Wisconsin Whitewater
April Atwood, University of Washington
Lynora Bayless, United Way of Southern Nevada


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20 | 1993

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