About What The Studies Say
This website presents summaries of over 125 findings from more than 50 experimental studies. These studies are published in high quality, reputable academic journals of psychology, advertising, social behaviour, consumer research, marketing, communication and related areas. They offer invaluable insights to add to sector research and knowledge.
Each Summary Includes:
keywords: a list of issues the experiment addresses
source: the details of the article reporting the experiment
conclusions: the results of the experiment
caveats: aspects of the study which need to be considered if applying conclusions to different contexts, e.g. within a culture different to that in which the study took place
URL/DOI: how to find the original article.
Most of the journals in which these articles are published are subscription-only, or locked behind paywalls. The articles are written for academic audiences, in technical language.
This website aims to make this research more accessible beyond academia by offering bite-size, straightforward summaries. Each summary also highlights where to find and purchase the full articles to read them in full.
The summaries are organised into a handful of categories, but many studies overlap two or more categories, so do explore the site and look for keywords in other categories to find further studies which might be useful to you.
These studies have been chosen based on their relevance and their rigour - their relevance to current and continuing questions in the sector, and the rigour of their testing methods.
Some of the studies focus on text types related to advertising (for example) rather than fundraising communications specifically, but their insights are relevant to charity communications. Most of these studies are relatively recent, but older studies have been included too where their results remain relevant. As questions in the sector change, and as new studies are published, this site will be updated, and you'll find new categories and new data.
A Note on Key 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.