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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

Pictures of Donation Recipients Engaged in Physical Self-Help Enhance Readiness to act and Donations intentions

Published: May 25, 2021


Gadi Buskila, BarIlan; Dikla Perez, Bar Ilan University; Nira Munichor, Bar-Ilan University


Many charity organizations raise money through crowdfunding platforms, in which donors choose among large numbers of projects that compete for funds. Fundraising platforms encourage project owners to use photos to stand out. Prior research suggests that the content of such photos can substantially affect donation behavior. The current study identifies a novel feature of campaign imagery that influences the donation decision: portrayal of prospective donation-recipients (victims) engaged in different types of “self-help” actions aimed at overcoming unfortunate circumstances. This study explores the influence of a single photo reflecting physical self-help (e.g., physically repairing a building), non-physical self-help (e.g., studying blueprints), or no self-help on donation behavior. Field data from a crowdfunding platform show that donors contribute more funds to campaigns that show victims engaged in physical self-help than to campaigns portraying victims engaged in non-physical self-help or no self-help. Three controlled experiments suggest that donation intentions may increase because observing a victim engaged in physical self-help makes prospective donors more ready to take action themselves. Moreover, the effect is less likely to occur when the self-help behavior is perceived as unacceptable (e.g., forbidden by authorities).