How do you persuade people to give to Haiti relief efforts? Texting donations has gotten a lot of attention, though questions have been raised about how quickly that money will get there. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were on the Sunday morning talk shows stressing the transparency of their fund. Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born musician, read a statement on YouTube after it emerged that tax returns from his charity hadn’t been filed on time, among other alleged shenanigans.
The perceived credibility of a disaster-relief organization matters quite a bit, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Twente in The Netherlands (the paper is not online, but the abstract is here). In the study, respondents said factors like an organization’s image and whether it was trustworthy were important — which isn’t all that surprising, really, but good to keep in mind. I’m guessing Wyclef Jean’s group saw a drop-off in donations after the bad press.
The study found a correlation between how much news people consume and their willingness to give. The more news you read/watch/hear, the more likely you are to donate. In the case of Haiti, news-media coverage has been intense so that almost certainly helps. I’d be interested to find out whether encouragement from people you know — say, via Twitter — has a stronger effect than generic appeals. Maybe there’s a study out there examining that but so far I haven’t found it.
And the two former presidents are right to emphasize transparency and accountability when they’re asking for donations. People care whether their donation actually helps. From the paper:
People are likely to base their decision whether to donate or not on the certainty that their money will go to the right places and will be spent in the most effective ways. So it is very important for a relief campaign to make absolutely clear from the start to potential donors how their money will be spent, and to follow-up the campaign by showing results of what was established with the donations.
By the way, here’s an interesting round-up of donations to U.S. relief groups.Return to Top