Lee, Moon J., & Xi, Lui (2017). What motivates online charitable giving among aware and not-so-involved publics? Public Relations Journal, 11(1), 1-14.

We investigated whether providing social information, recommended contribution level, statement about gift impact, mission, and financial disclosure information influences unaware or not-so-involved college students’ online charitable-giving. An experiment was conducted with 224 college students. The findings suggested that providing information on gift-impact and organization’s mission statement had the most significant impact on latent publics’ willingness to donate online. These findings are somewhat consistent with the previous survey findings about the charitable-giving of American Millennials. Our study confirmed that providing one’s mission statement and a gift impact statement are two major factors that increase a latent public’s donation intention, serving as a peripheral cue in online charitable-giving.

An experiment was conducted with 224 college students in the USA who were specifically selected for their low interest in charitable-giving to a specifically chosen topic. This study included six NPO (Nonprofit Organization) web-donation pages (6 conditions): An NPO web-donation page that included all five factors, and five NPO web-donation pages that included only one of five factors.

Key Findings
(1) We found that providing a statement about gift-impact and a mission statement had a significant impact on the donation intention of a latent public.

(2) We did not find a significant impact of providing social information on a latent public’s donation intention in an online giving setting.

(3) In an online fundraising context, gift-impact information increases the outcome efficacy of a latent public and thus increases the donation intention.

(4) We did not find any significant link between the NPO’s financial disclosure information and their levels of trust in the NPO.

(5) We did not find that providing recommended contribution levels significantly influenced any dependent variables such as donation intention.

Implications for Practice
This study contributed to fundraising literature by providing a new method to approach to the publics in online fundraising contexts and applied the ELM to develop strategies to engage latent publics, particularly college students. With the emergence of social media, fundraisers can reach and communicate with a broader public. In such an environment, publics can be reached more widely than ever before so that effective strategies may be developed to better communicate with publics.

We explored this area and focused on the latent public of a campaign topic, a group rarely discussed previously and deserving of better understanding because of its large number. For practitioners, the present study provided what factors impacting latent public college students, and provided data on how they react to factors traditionally used in persuasive messages in fundraising campaigns. Based on these findings, practitioners have a better chance of designing a donation site that will target a broader range of publics including latent publics in an online context.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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