Why people prefer to give their time rather than money
Asking for help, rather than donations, can increase charitable giving
- People like to help others out, but may not like to think they’re losing something in the process. Fund-raisers may thus be better off keeping the notion of helping at the forefront, while avoiding framing the act of donating as a monetary sacrifice, according to Chicago Booth’s Adelle X. Yang, a PhD student, and Christopher K. Hsee and Oleg Urminsky, who are both faculty.
- In one study, the researchers asked two groups of participants to imagine working as a street vendor making $120 a day. They then asked one group to “help” by working for a charity for one day, and asked the other to “give” their one-day earnings to the same charity. Those asked to help were more willing to participate and found the activity more meaningful (see chart).
- Giving and helping rely on two distinct psychological processes. A request to give evokes a consideration of self-interest, reminding people of giving up something for others’ welfare. A helping opportunity, on the other hand, is associated with a sense of meaningfulness, which could encourage people to do more for charity.
- In another study, participants were asked to fish coins out of a bowl. One group performed the task for charity, while another group performed the task for themselves, but with the option of donating any money they made. The researchers found that participants worked much harder and fished out more coins when the task was done purely for charity.