Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Crystal Hoyt
In fundraising, some nonprofits have sought to channel the power of personal stories by including them in appeal letters. Are stories an effective tool in soliciting donations? In this study, participants read one of three appeals from an unnamed abortion fund. Two conditions contained a personal story, either an “unapologetic” or a “uncontroversial” narrative, about a woman who underwent an abortion; one condition did not include a story. Participants were then asked questions regarding the appeal and the organization before being given a “bonus” dollar, and offered the option of donating a portion of that to an abortion fund. Results showed that the effect of the conditions on participants’ willingness to donate depended on their income level. Those with higher reported incomes were significantly more likely to donate, relative to those with lower incomes, after reading the “uncontroversial” message. Overall, we find a “one size fits all” approach to appeals might not be the most effective if the nonprofit’s donor base includes numerous demographics, as groups may react differently to the same information.
McCarthy, Kate A., "Storytelling for Fundraising: Assessing the Impact of Personal Stories on Donation Behavior" (2020). Honors Theses. 1499.