Persuasion and Charitable Donations: Variations in Email Solicitation Techniques for The University Libraries

Open Access
Kimmelman, Dana Zoe Montana
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Melvin Michael Mark, Thesis Supervisor
  • David A. Rosenbaum, Honors Advisor
  • persuasion
  • heuristics
  • fundraising
  • libraries
  • charitable donations
Persuasion is an important topic in psychology, and it is often applied in other areas including marketing, economics, and business models. Psychological research can shed light on the world of fundraising, which is embracing the benefits of psychology as a tool for improving campaign strategies. When applied to fundraising, the study of persuasion also connects with research on helping behavior. This study measures the effect of altering a routine solicitation email from an academic library on its recipients’ responses. My hypothesis is that altering the solicitation emails, by removing bold formatting, inserting an anchoring phrase and image, and especially doing both at once, will increase the rate of click-throughs (recipients following up on the suggestions in the email) and also lower the rate at which recipients unsubscribe from the listserv (demonstrating their disinterest in giving in the future). I found that the alterations did not improve click-throughs over the control condition, nor did it cause significantly fewer recipients to unsubscribe from the listserv. Directions for future research are discussed.