Requests for reprints should be sent to A. N. Doob, Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A1.
Ask and You Shall be Given: Request Size and Donations to a Good Cause1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 19, Issue 12, pages 1049–1056, September 1989
How to Cite
Doob, A. N. and McLaughlin, D. S. (1989), Ask and You Shall be Given: Request Size and Donations to a Good Cause. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 19: 1049–1056. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1989.tb01238.x
The authors wish to thank the General Counsel and Chair of the Board of Directors of the civil liberties organization for allowing them to conduct this experiment and report the results. They wish also to thank the Ministry of the Solicitor General of Canada for its contribution to the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto. This contribution indirectly contributed to the preparation of this paper. Finally they would like to thank Bea Caulfield and Joshua Doob for their help in tabulating the results of study.
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
In an attempt to replicate the findings reported in this Journal by Weyant and Smith (1987), members or recent donors to a Canadian civil liberties organization were asked to donate money under one of three conditions: (a) In the control condition, they were simply asked for a donation; (b) in the “smaller request” condition, they were asked to make a donation, but amounts of Canadian $30 to $100 were suggested; and (c) in the “larger request” condition, amounts of $50 to $250 were suggested. Unlike the Weyant and Smith studies, we found no difference in the proportion of respondents making a donation, but significant differences in the size of the donations made by those making donations. In our study, the most effective way of getting large donations was to ask for a large amount. It was suggested that the most likely explanations for the differences in the results of the two studies were the following: First, our target population were previous donors to the organization, whereas those in the Weyant and Smith studies were not likely to have been. Previous research suggests that those who had been donors previously are influenced, positively, by requests for a specific large donation, whereas those not previously approached are, if anything, negatively influenced. Second, our “larger request” appears to be within a plausible range for donations, whereas the larger request in the Weyant and Smith study may have been seen as being outside of the plausible range. In any case, however, we would recommend caution in drawing a conclusion about the most effective request size to encourage people to donate money to charity.