Psychology Behind Donations


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Motivated by a sales class I'm currently taking, I wanted to do some more research on what science has to say on the mental processes behind buying something or donating money. I discovered an article entitled "The Neuroscience of Why We Give: Positive Emotions Predict Donations", which found a positive correlation between evoking certain emotions and increased donations. In particular, the article claimed donors are more likely to break out the checkbook when positive emotional responses were activated. An example of a strategy that charities use to evoke a positive emotional response is called the "identifiable victim effect", in which people are more likely to donate if shown a picture of the person their contribution would benefit. Take a look at this picture and its easy to decide which you'd be more likely to donate to.

SC blog.gifThe practice of evoking emotional responses is a valuable strategy for all salesmen. I've recently been thinking a lot about how understanding people can get you farther in your career than understanding any technical skill. This article has enlightened me to the idea that learning more about the science behind how our minds work can help me in my career. 

3 Comments

I definitely agree that knowing how peoples' minds work is a better factor to get ahead in life. I work here at school for Penn State Lion Line. It is a telefund center and we call alumni to ask if they want to give money back to their school or program they were in. From personal experience, if you want them to say yes you have to get inside their minds. You need to read their attitudes and know what they're thinking.. so you are right in my opinion. Knowing technical skills isn't as important as being able to directly communicate and know how our minds work.

This is a very interesting topic. Just think about all the commercials we see that try to evoke just the right sense of helplessness towards the topic in order to get donations. The commercials for animals, specifically, beautifully illustrates rhetorical efforts to impact you on a moral level. This, here, is ethos, a writer's best friend, they try to let you convince yourself with the emotion they evoke unto the recipient of the plea. Read up on some other rhetorical strategies people use to persuade their audience http://courses.durhamtech.edu/perkins/aris.html

Your post actually makes a lot of sense. Showing a picture of someone in need, and giving a visual to accompany the image is a great tool used to get people to not only pay attention to what your trying to say, but be more willing to buy whatever it is that you are selling. Reading this definitely makes me realize that there really is a science to everything, even advertising. I found an article that delves deeper into the idea of advertising being a science. It talks about how many scientists and psychologists are hired to work for advertising campaigns for the exact reason you mentioned in your post! It also talks about how advertising has become a science of sorts because studies are done to see which methods are most effective when advertising.

http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct02/advertising.aspx

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