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Leveraging Creativity in Charity Marketing: The Impact of Engaging in Creative Activities on Subsequent Donation Behavior

Leveraging Creativity in Charity Marketing: The Impact of Engaging in Creative Activities on Subsequent Donation Behavior

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Teaching Insight:

How to organize the perfect fundraising gala? A new study in the Journal of Marketing shows that engaging potential donors through participation in creative activities and tasks before seeking donation can be a viable strategy to increase donation! Utilizing different types of creative activities, such as designing a creative t-shirt or decorating cookie creatively, the research team found that those who participated in such activities were more likely to donate than those who participated in similar but non-creative versions of the tasks. For example, in one of the studies, the researchers found that those who were asked to decorate a cookie as creatively as possible were more likely to donate to the charitable organization than those who were simply asked to copy a given cookie design.
This research suggests that charitable organizations can enhance donation contributions by inviting potential donors to do something creative, such as engaging in creative activities during a charitable event or a gala. For example, charities can organize a painting, or a cookie decoration event, or other creative activities that engage potential donors, physically or mentally, to produce something novel and creative. The non-profit organizations should encourage the participants to be as creative as possible as it is the creative process of participating in a creative activity that makes potential donors feel a higher sense of freedom and autonomy, which leads to more positive affect and higher donation behavior.

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
Consumer Behavior

Full Citation: ​
Xu, Lidan, Ravi Mehta, Darren W. Dahl (2021), “Leveraging Creativity in Charity Marketing: The Impact of Engaging in Creative Activities on Subsequent Donation Behavior,” Journal of Marketing.

Article Abstract
Charities are constantly looking for new and more effective ways to engage potential donors in order to secure the resources needed to deliver their services. The current work demonstrates that creative activities are one way for marketers to meet this challenge. A set of field and lab studies show that engaging potential donors in creative activities positively influences their donation behaviors (i.e., the likelihood of donation and the monetary amount donated). Importantly, the observed effects are shown to be context independent: they hold even when potential donors engage in creative activities unrelated to the focal cause of the charity (or the charitable organization itself). The findings suggest that engaging in a creative activity enhances the felt autonomy of the participant, thus inducing a positive affective state, which in turn leads to higher donation behaviors. Positive affect is shown to enhance donation behaviors due to perceptions of donation impact and a desire for mood maintenance. However, the identified effects emerge only when one engages in a creative activity—not when the activity is non-creative, or when only the concept of creativity itself is made salient.

Special thanks to Holly Howe (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University) and Demi Oba (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University), for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program. 

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