Encouraging donations to charity: A field study of competing and complementary factors in tactic sequencing

Robert A Bell, Matthew Cholerton, Kevin E. Fraczek, Guy S. Rohlfs, Brian A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The independent and combined effects of the foot‐in‐the‐door (FITD) and pregiving compliance techniques were examined as part of a door‐to‐door fundraising effort on behalf of a local AIDS organization. The FITD procedure attempts to increase compliance with a critical request by first obtaining compliance with a smaller request. Self‐perception theory posits that compliance with the initial request leads the subject to see self as helpful and concerned. Pregiving entails the provision of a gift or favor prior to issuing the critical request. The norm of reciprocity calls for reciprocation of this gesture, which should oblige the subject to give. Each subject was solicited at home with one of five message strategies. Control subjects were simply asked to make a donation. FITD subjects were asked to sign a petition encouraging state support of AIDS programs before receiving the critical request. Pregiving subjects were given a brochure described as containing “life‐saving information"’ before being asked to make a donation. Pregiving/FITD subjects were given a brochure, asked to sign the petition, and then received the donation request. FITD/Pregiving subjects were asked to sign a petition and were then given the brochure before being asked for money. Pregiving/FITD was hypothesized to be no more effective than the control strategy because the act of signing the petition should be seen as a payback for the brochure, thereby fulfilling the reciprocity norm and short‐circuiting a self‐perception analysis. In contrast, self‐perception and pressures to reciprocate were expected to work together harmoniously when the order was petition/brochure; the FITD/Pregiving condition was predicted to be the most effective message strategy. Results indicate that FITD and pregiving were more profitable than the control strategy. As expected, the Pregiving/FITD order did not differ significantly from the control condition in the amount of funds generated. The FITD/Pregiving technique was significantly more effective than the control message and the Pregiving/FITD tactic, but its effectiveness did not differ significantly from that obtained for FITD and Pregiving. Applied and theoretical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-115
Number of pages18
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


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