Does dignity matter? A study of donors’ behavior

Aftab Rahim*, Haizhong Wang, Jiancai Liao, Sher Khan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Exploring the hidden factors behind donors’ inspiration is of great importance. This will go a long way, enabling charitable organizations to design more effective communication in donation appeals. For decades, the donation appeals used for charity emphasize on negative emotion sadness to induce empathy in viewers. However, using extreme negative emotions like sadness in donation appeals has adverse psychological effects; causing distress to viewers. In contrast, there is almost non-existent research on donors’ inspiration in such donation appeals. This research analyses donors’ inspiration in experimental studies. The data were collected through survey questionnaires. The findings reveal that the sadness & dignity combined condition triggers higher inspiration than the sadness condition; resulting in a positive evaluation of the donation appeal in the combined condition as compared to the sadness condition (Study-1). Further, the combined condition elicits higher inspiration than the sadness condition; causing higher donations in the combined condition than both the sadness and dignity conditions (Study-2). In a nutshell, this research reveals that dignity inspires people. Specifically, it shows that combining sadness & dignity is more effective than the sadness dominating emotion in persuading people to donate. Theoretical and practical implications of the study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Dignity
  • Donation
  • Inspiration
  • Pro-social behavior
  • Sadness


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