Department or Program



When examined separately, both “warm glow” messages and fundraising goal progress information have been found to increase the likelihood and magnitude of charitable giving. We implemented two online survey experiments with random assignment to determine whether fundraising goal progress information interacts with messaging aimed at activating either warm glow or pure altruism to jointly affect donation behavior. In Study 1, we recruited 1301 U.S.- based Amazon Mechanical Turk workers. Participants were randomly assigned to view one of thirteen fundraising appeals for a national literacy organization. The appeals differed on two dimensions: motivational messaging and goal progress information. Participants were then asked to report their hypothetical willingness to donate to support the cause. In Study 2 we recruited 810 participants and used a similar experimental design with real donation decisions. We found that 1) the interaction of motivational message and distance-to-goal conditions did not impact real donation, 2) the presence of any motivational message did not impact donation, 3) people were more likely to donate when the fundraising goal was closer, and 4) presenting a goal increased donation amount. Our findings contribute to current understanding of the efficacy of motivations-based and goals-based fundraising appeals and provide insight for nonprofit organizations wishing to maximize giving.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Bates Community After Expiration]

First Advisor

Goff, Sandra H.

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Community Engagement



Available to Bates Community via local IP address or Bates login on Wednesday, April 03, 2024.