#charitytuesday Raids Diary: More fundraising research
[This is a follow-up to my last post, which was about couple of bits of scientific research into charitable giving. I looked at a couple of articles about factors that influence giving, such as fancy dress and the wording on the box itself. I mentioned how it could be applied to the kind of fundraising I do.
This post looks at the first of a few more articles on similar kinds of studies. Thanks to my friend Dave for sending me the links.]
Movin’ on up
First, a Scientific American article (via a Future Fundraising Now article) reports research looking at people’s willingness to do various things as a function of whether they had recently moved up or down stairs or escalators. From filling out surveys to donating to charity (in this case, the Salvation Army – this was US-based research), people were more cooperative after having gone up rather than down. The SciAm article goes into more detail about the general psychological conclusions drawn, but here I will focus on the implications for charity collectors.
In terms of the kinds of collections I take part in, escalators are goldmines. In London Tube stations especially, escalators tend to be built in tunnels, which provide a fantastic medium for projecting your voice, which in turn means you can be heard better. On top of that, people on escalators can be submitted to a full-on barrage for a lot longer than rushed pedestrians on a busy outdoor street, because they are moving more slowly. Being exposed to the collector for longer gives them more opportunity to consider the arguments in favour of donating. It also gives the collector the opportunity to point out all the wonderful people ahead of the potential donor and ostentatiously thank them for their most kind and gracious support.
Indeed, my own highest one-day total to date is £1281.56 for Meningitis Research Foundation, about £900 of which was done at the bottom of a set of escalators at Bond Street tube station. Now, this is just anecdotal, but I suspect that standing at the bottom of an escalator may lead to higher rates of giving thaat the top, because of the extended line of sight. From my experience, being seen in the first place is key to receiving donations. This runs counter to the conclusions of the study presented above. However, I think that as ever with this kind of thing, the details are important. Unfortunately, the link from the SciAm page was broken, so I can only write about the reporting of the research. For instance, I think the line of sight argument applies most strongly in the case of escalators going up/down at a sharp angle, where physics dictates how well you can be seen.
On the other hand, there is also evidence of very high collection totals coming from the top of escalators such as the one at Bank station. Meanwhile, back on the original hand, there is yet further evidence of bottom being best, for instance at Holborn.
In the case of my Bond Street experience, I was at the top of a different set of escalators in the morning, because that was the direction the rush-hour traffic was going in. But then it was a different set of people, a different lay-out, a different amount of time, etc. There are a lot of variables involved. Fascinating though they may be, the scientist in me, wanting to be rigourous, feels that conclusive, robust results would be hard to achieve in tube station collections.
I’d love to be proven wrong.