Can Corporate Giving Make You More Generous?

By Elizabeth Hopper | November 28, 2016 | 0 comments

According to a new study, generous businesses inspire individuals to give, too—thanks to one particular emotion.

In recent years, organizations such as corporations and sports teams have made an effort to give back to their communities. Sometimes these efforts are criticized as merely marketing strategies, as opposed to genuine altruism, and other times they are warmly embraced. What sorts of effects might they really have?

A recent paper published in the Journal of Consumer Behavior suggests one answer to this question: Seeing an organization donate to charity may cause individuals to want to donate as well.

Past research has suggested that, when we are the beneficiaries of kind acts by others, we are often motivated to “pay it forward.” For example, when participants are helped during an experiment, they experience gratitude and are then more likely to help out someone else in return. However, less research has looked at what happens when we see a company or organization act in a charitable way. If an organization donates to a charity you care about, will you still experience gratitude? And will this motivate you to want to help out the charity as well?

In the study, 201 participants read about a hypothetical scenario in which their local football team decided to donate to a charity. Half of the participants read that the team had decided to donate 1 percent of its ticket sales and merchandise revenue, while the other half read that the team had agreed to make a much larger donation of 5 percent.

The researchers found that, when participants felt more grateful for their team’s donation, they also were more likely to want to donate to the charity themselves.

When did the participants feel more grateful? The more strongly they identified with their team, the more gratitude they felt—especially when the team donated five percent of its proceeds (compared to one percent). In other words, organizational generosity seems to inspire individual generosity—and this is especially likely when people feel connected to the organization and the organization gives more.

This new study helps to explain why we’re likely to want to “pay it forward” when we witness good deeds by another person or organization: gratitude. Even though the participants in this study didn’t directly benefit from the organization’s charitable giving, they may have felt grateful because they saw the organization as supporting their moral values. In other words, simply reading about a group that you care about doing something generous may be enough to inspire gratitude and altruism.

How can organizations ensure that their charitable giving efforts have the greatest impact?

According to Professor Dae Hee Kwak, lead author of the paper, partnerships between organizations and charities are most likely to inspire more giving when they are transparent (so that consumers can see exactly how the charity is benefiting), and when individuals feel a connection to both the organization and the charity.

Charitable giving has been found to benefit our health and happiness. So if companies or organizations inspire their members to donate to charity, their members may improve their own health and well-being as well. In other words, organizational donations can have a positive effect—both on the charity receiving donations and on the members of the organization who may be prompted to donate.

Tracker Pixel for Entry
 
 
 

Greater Good wants to know:
Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?

  • Very Likely

  • Likely

  • Unlikely

  • Very Unlikely

  • Not sure

 
About The Author

Elizabeth Hopper is a Ph.D. candidate in Social Psychology at UC Santa Barbara.

  

Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

Donate
 
  
 
blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Most...

  
  

Greater Good Events

The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2017
Clark Kerr Campus, UC-Berkeley
Sunday, June 25 - Friday, June 30, 2017 OR Sunday, July 16 - Friday, July 21, 2017


The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2017

The GGSC’s six-day Summer Institute equips education professionals with prosocial learning strategies, tools and processes that benefit both students and teachers.


» ALL EVENTS
 
 

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!

» TAKE A QUIZ
 

Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

Watch
 

Greater Good Resources

 
 
» MORE STUDIES
 
 
» MORE ORGS
 

Book of the Week

Roots of Empathy By Mary Gordon Mary Gordon explains how best to nurture empathy and social emotional literacy in all children—and thereby reduce aggression, antisocial behavior, and bullying.

» READ MORE
 
Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement