The 'I' of the beholder: How gender differences and self-referencing influence charity advertising

Chun-Tuan Chang and Yu-Kang Lee

National Sun Yat-sen University


Charitable donation has always been accounted as a vital funding source to the development of non-profit organisations (NPOs). Among all sources of giving, individual giving is always the largest component of charitable contributions. In the US, for instance, it accounted for over 70% in 2008 (Giving USA Foundation 2009). Thus, how to maximise giving responses from private individuals is an important subject with regard to charity advertising, especially when fundraising competition among NPOs is fierce (Bennett 2008; Das et al. 2008). To date, research that has attempted to better elucidate the relationship between charity promotion and donation behaviour has focused largely on cognitive mechanisms to increase compliance rates after a donation is solicited. The researched mechanisms include foot-in-the-door techniques (Chartrand et al. 1999), visual aids (Thornton et al. 1991) and request size (Weyant & Smith 1987; Doob & McLaughlin 1989). Less attention has been directed towards examining how to frame charity messages effectively.