Gendered giving: the influence of social norms on the donation behaviour of men and women
This reading studies about the different influences when determining the level of charitable giving of men and women.
In 2007, America, $229 billion from the total amount of $306.39 billion donated to charity came from individuals and households (Giving USA, 2008). However, many non-profit organisations still has difficulties in obtaining funds. Previous literature, journals and elsewhere continue to address the challenge to increasing donations.
Descriptive social norms will be focused in this study and it specifies what is typically done in a given setting (what most people do). Two sets of mechanism, self-verification and self-presentation, are identified through which descriptive norms affect behaviour. Previous research demonstrated that men are more likely to react to norms if it reinforces self-verification of being generous while women reacts more when it reinforces good relationship with others.
- Self-verification (“Self-focused”)
- Highlights the important function of self-focused mechanisms in guiding people’s behaviour (Lecky, 1945)
- Individuals have a certain self-concept and they choose their behaviour to sustain this concept
- Self-presentation (“Relationship-focused”)
- People conform to social norms to maintain a good relationship with the social groups endorsing the norms
- Individuals give in order to develop and maintain their relationship with the organisation’s leadership, their peer group who values the organisation or its beneficiaries
In this research we focus on how social norms influence donation levels to non-profit organisations, and how this influence varies by gender.
- The first study will be conducted using the method of surveys targeted at a set of active and recently lapsed donors to a public radio station.
- The second study would be in a laboratory setting to investigate whether male and female react differently to the social norms created by an experimental scenario, designed to be parallel to the fundraising environment from the first study.
First Study: Field Study – Donor Survey
- Data collected in the environment of public radio fundraising
- Surveys were included with the renewal mails and sent to members who would receive the renewals letter during the month of August 2003 (randomly selected)
- 394 respondents were selected; 168 males and 226 females
- Three dependent variables are being examined; the donations in the year preceding and the year following the survey and the average of these two values
- Results show that men are more influenced by descriptive norms than are women
- Findings supports the theory of self-focused dominates relation-focused mechanisms
- Results provides support that the sustaining and creation of self-concepts is the motivation that determine the level of giving in the context of fund raising
Second Study: Experimental Study
- To examine the influence of social information on descriptive norms and the subsequent effect on contributing behaviour of men and women
- Descriptive social norms is being manipulated in this study by providing social information to the participants
- Social information has been previously shown to influence descriptive social norms (Croson et al., 2009)
- Two versions of a scenario study are randomly assigned to participants
- First scenario, ‘you’ve called the radio station and made a contribution of $25 and in the call, you were told that another station member had contributed only $10 (contributed lesser than the participant, $10 vs $25)
- Second scenario, the participant was told that another station member had contributed $50 (contributed more than the participant, $50 vs $25)
- Participants are next asked how much they think and average station listener would contribute and how much they would contribute in the next year
- Findings shows that descriptive social norms influence contributions overall but this effect is primarily driven by men
- Women’s decisions are not significantly related to their belief about the social norm
- Results shown are consistent and confirms the results obtained in the field survey
The study demonstrates the overall effect of descriptive norms on charity giving is primarily a result of the behaviour of men. Males giving are significantly related to their beliefs about the descriptive social norms which are in contrast with the females. It shows that self-focused mechanics dominates relationship-focused in charitable giving.
I think that this study can be further carried out with different scenarios to find out more why males are more affected on self-focused mechanics than females to give a better understanding and analysis. Research can also be carried out to find out what are the factors, mechanics, social norms that will affect females in charitable giving as this study is unable to provide us with.
What do you think of the influences on determining the level of charitable giving of men and women in this study? Are there any other factors which affect the level of charitable giving of different genders?
Croson, R. T., Handy F. & Shang J. (2010). Gendered giving: the influence of social norms on the donation behaviour of men and women. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 15, 199-213.