A note on caveats.
The ‘Key caveats’ listed after each study are factors which need to be taken into account if the study’s findings are applied to other contexts.
One factor raised frequently is the use of undergraduate participants as a sample group. While past research has shown that student samples can be valid, student samples are inaccurate predictors of how significantly the issue in question will affect a broader population sample. (See R. A. Peterson, ‘On the use of college students in social science research: Insights from a second-order meta-analysis’, Journal of Consumer Research (2001) vol. 28.3, pp.450-461).
As some of the research in the ‘Demographic Differences’ page shows, behaviour varies across cultures. It also varies, to some extent, across time periods.
Charity giving also involves some fairly unique behavioral characteristics Participants’ past giving behaviour and experiences of charities are significant factors in their responses, and this is rarely checked as a variable in the studies presented on this website. (See A. Sargeant, ‘Charitable Giving: Towards a Model of Donor Behaviour, Journal of Marketing Management (1999) vol. 15.4: 215-38.)
Some of this research also relates to text types outside of the charity fundraising context (e.g. product safety information).
Lastly, many of the studies were undertaken under laboratory conditions, the artificiality of which (among other things) means there is often a slight difference between behaviour as reported in the study and behaviour in real life scenarios.
Nonetheless, as many of these studies make clear in their discussions and conclusions, their findings serve as empirically valid and reliable indicators of responses to charity fundraising communications in a range of charity fundraising contexts.