Social information decreases giving in late-stage fundraising campaigns

Coby Morvinski, Matthew J. Lupoli, On Amir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Online fundraisers often showcase information about the number of donations received and the proximity to the campaign goal. This practice follows research on descriptive norms and goal-directed motivation, which predicts higher contributions as the number of donors increases and as the campaign goal is approached. However, across three studies, we demonstrate that when the campaign is close to completion, individuals give more when they see that there are few (vs. many) donors to the campaign. We observe this result across real campaigns on a fundraising website and obtain causal evidence for this effect in two laboratory experiments. We find that this effect is driven in part by an increase in the perceived progress that one's donation makes towards reaching the campaign goal. This work identifies a counterintuitive consequence of norm-based marketing appeals and has important implications for fundraisers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0278391
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12 December
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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