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1 THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL INFORMATION, RECOMMENDED CONTRIBUTION LEVEL S GIFT IMPACT, AND TRANSPARENCY ON GIVING By XI LIU A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Xi Liu
3 To my family
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to express my sincere appreciation from the bottom of my heart to many individuals ; this study would not have been completed without their help. First, I would like to thank my chair, Dr. Moon J. Lee, who while handling tremendous academic lo ads, put enormous effort into guiding me on the right track and inspiring me with her insightful advice s Further thanks go out to my committee members: Dr. Kathleen S. Kelly and Dr. Spiro K. Kiousis Dr. Kiousis showed me the great depth and richness of the discipline s of pe rsuasion and public relations. Dr. Kelly offered me a great knowledge of philanthropy, fundraising and public relations, which form the basis of my thesis. Second, I would like to convey my appreciation to Dr. Ed Kellerman, Professor David E. Carlson and Weiting Tao. I could not have collect ed sufficient data without their permission to conduct the experiment in their classes. In addition, I would like to express my appreciation to Professor Calson. He provided valuable advice s on the webpage design which was used in my experiment. Last but not least, I would express appreciation to Angela Zhang. Angela helped me a lot with statistic al analysis My thanks also go to Dr. Churchill Roberts Dr. Juan Carlos Molleda and Dr. Michael Leslie They all made my experiences in this department unique and unforgettable. Finally, I am grateful to my family. My husband, Bo Zhang, accompanies a nd grows with me. Not only did he t ake on all the responsibilities of a great husband but he also was a good critic of my academic work. My parent s and parents in law gave us invaluable back up, both financial and emotional. I thank them for their sacrifices.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ............................ 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 8 A BSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ .............................. 10 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ..................... 13 Situational Theory of Publics and Elaboration Likelihood Model ........................... 13 Social Norms and Charitable Giving ................................ ................................ ... 15 Recommended Contributions and Charitable Giving ................................ ........... 21 Outcome Efficacy and Charitable Giving ................................ ............................. 24 ............................. 26 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ .............................. 31 Study Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 31 Independent Variables ................................ ................................ ...................... 32 Depend ent Variables ................................ ................................ ........................ 33 Donation intention ................................ ................................ ....................... 33 Perceived Social Norms ................................ ................................ .............. 33 Outcome Efficacy ................................ ................................ ....................... 33 Trust in Nonprofit Organizations ................................ ................................ ... 34 Stimuli ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 34 Sample and Procedure ................................ ................................ ................ 36 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 38 Analysis Summary ................................ ................................ ............................ 38 Profile of Participants ................................ ................................ ........................ 38 Mani pulation and the Success of the Random Assignment Checks ...................... 38 Hypothesis and Research Questions Testing ................................ ..................... 40 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ .... 48 Theoretical and Practical Contributions ................................ .............................. 53 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 56
6 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 57 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 58 APPENDIX A LAYOUT OF THE MOCK WEBPAGE ................................ ................................ 60 B QUESTIONNAIRE FOR EXPERIMENT GROUPS ................................ .............. 67 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ......................... 72 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ...................... 79
7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4 1 Random assignment of participants in seven conditions ................................ .. 45 4 2 Valid samples in seven conditions ................................ ................................ 45 4 3 Results of hypotheses ................................ ................................ .................. 46 4 4 Results of research question one ................................ ................................ .. 47 4 5 Results of Research Question Two ................................ ................................ 47
8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page A 1 Webpage with combined variables ................................ ................................ 60 A 2 Webpage with social information ................................ ................................ ... 61 A 3 Webpage with recommended contribution levels ................................ ............ 62 A 4 Webpage with gift i mpact information ................................ ............................ 63 A 5 ...................... 64 A 6 ................................ ......... 65 A 7 Webpage for the control group ................................ ................................ ...... 66 B 1 Page one of questionnaire for experiment groups ................................ ........... 67 B 2 Page two of questionnaire for experiment groups ................................ ........... 67 B 3 Page three of questionnaire for experiment groups ................................ ......... 68 B 4 Page four of questionnaire for experiment groups ................................ .......... 68 B 5 Page five of questionnaire fo r experiment groups ................................ ........... 69 B 6 Page of six of questionnaire for experiment groups ................................ ........ 69 B 7 Page seven of questionnaire for experiment groups ................................ ....... 70 B 8 Page eight of questionnaire for experiment groups ................................ ......... 70 B 9 Page nine of questionnaire for experiment groups ................................ .......... 71 B 10 Page ten of questionnaire for experiment groups ................................ ............ 71
9 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL INFORMATION, RECOMMENDED CONTRIBUTION LEVEL S GIFT IMPACT, AND TRANSPARENCY ON GIVING By Xi Liu August 2013 Chair: Moon J. Lee Major: Mass Communication This study was designed to examine the eff ect of social information, recommended contribution level s gift impact, and transparency giving. This study used a n experiment that included six conditions and a control group. The resulting data indicated that gift impact information and information about had giving intention. Moreover, an analysis of the resulting data suggested that social information can donation intention Also, a combination of all variables showed significant effects on donation intention perceived descriptive social norms, outcome efficacy, and trust in the nonprofit organization. In addition, this study identified that gift impact information and information about mission form effective peripheral cues for latent public college students in online fundraising context.
10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Charities and nonprofit organizations represent a substantial sector of the A merican economy. In 2011, total giving was $298.42 billion, representing approximately 2 % of the gross domestic product, and t his is an increase of 4% since 2010 ( Hall 2012 ). A new trend in donations is donating online. According to a report by Blackbaud (2012 ), a leading provider of software and services designed specifically for nonprofit organizations, online donations increased by 13% in 2011, compared to donations made in 2010. The data from 1,560 nonprofit organizations based in the United States, w ith a total of $5.1 billion in funds raised, indicate that in 2011, donations received online accounted for 6.3% of the total contributions received. A majority of online gifts are small gifts. The Blackbaud report states that in 2011, 46% of online gifts were less than $1,000 and 89% of online gifts were le ss than $5,000 (Blackbaud, 2012 ). For some organizations, the average donation received online is larger than the average donation generated by mail or telephone (Wallace, 2010). For example, in 2009, t he average size of online contributions to the New York Public Library was $91, which was larger than the overall average donation size of small contributions $66 (Wallace, 2010). Organizations have begun shifting both money and employees to online fundrai sing (Barton & Wallace, 2010). For example, the University mail budget to Internet fundraising (Barton & Wallace, 2010). With the appearance of such new technologies as the Internet and social media, and as donations made through these platforms increase significantly, strategies for developing these platforms into effective fundraising tools need further investigation. As
11 these new technologies enable nonprofit organizations to reach broader publics than before, fundraising strategies could be discussed from two perspectives: (a) segmenting publics by new methods and (b) developing effective messages to increase the donation intention of each group. According to the situational theory of publics (Gru nig & Hunt, 1984), there are four types of publics: active public, aware public, latent public, and nonpublic. Usually, fundraisers focus on the active and the aware public. The latent public is a group that rarely is being discussed and yet represents a p otentially abundant source of future customers and donors. As Aldoory and Sha (2007) state, since the situational theory of publics was first developed, there has been an increase in media outlets. Chey Nemeth nternet demonstrate a new form of information accessibility and dissemination that may well transform previously passive publics should be developed to fit the new feat ures and functions of any new media environment. According to a report released by Network for Good, the tool that powers donations to the charities rated by Charity Navigator, giving on social networks was significant, but donor loyalty was highest on ch arity websites that buil t strong connections with donors ( The Online Giving Study, 2012 ). Another survey, about the charitable giving of American Millennials (ages 20 to 35) in 2011, 75% of 6,522 participants had made donations, and 70% of these participan ts gave online. The channel they preferred to
12 Based on these data ab out online giving, when developing strategies for online fundraising campaigns, it is necessary to investigate the factors impacting online donor behavior. The purpose of this study was to investigate factors that can affect latent public American college fundraising setting. Kelly (1998) proposed that fundraising is an element of public relations. This study, thus, is also meaningful to public relations research.
13 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Situational Theory o f Publics and Elaboration Likelihood Model As stated in Chapter 1, a ccording to the situational theory of publics, individual perception of a situation determine s their willingness to act (Grunig & Hunt, 1984). T he t he ory provides three predictor variabl es: level of involvement, problem recognition, and constraint recognition. Level of involvement refers to the extent to which individuals feel involved with a problem, issue or organization; problem recognition refers to the extent to which individuals feel the problem is important; and constraint recognition refers to the extent to which individuals feel their abilities to impact the problem are constrained by factors outsid e their control P ublics can be divided into four groups by these three variables: a) active public, which has high levels of involvement and problem recognition and a low level of constrain recognition; b) aware public, which has high levels of problem re cognition, involvement, and constraint recognition; c) latent public which has a low level of problem recognition and involvement, and has not thought about constraint s ; and d) nonpublic, wh ich has n either involvement nor problem recognition (Grunig, 1997 ). From a theoretica l perspective, the latent public is a pool of aware and active public s From a reality perspective, the latent public is a large group. Grunig and Hunt (1984) suggest ed that for a given topic, one third of the population is the latent public As the latent public constitutes such a large group, scholars and practitioners should address strategies for communicating with the latent public T hough segmenting publics by their active engagement with an issue benefits message development and campaign design (Werder, 2005), according to Hallah an (2000 ), in the public relations literature,
14 there is no systematic model for segmenting publics or composing messages strategically for different publics. Much of the research has applied the situationa l theory of publics to practice s focused on public health and education efforts (e. g., Cameron & Yang, 1991; Dorner & Coombs, 1994; Pavlik, 1988). In the fundraising are n a, though scholars have segment ed donors into major and annual gift donors and have distin guished channels for communicating with them, there rarely is found any discussion about segmenting donors according to the situational theory of publics and developing communication strategies with the latent public for fundraising purpose s Traditionally, fundraisers spend most of their time and resource s o n seeking a nd cultivating major gift donors (Kelly, 1998). However, the aim of fundraising is also to develop strong relat ionships with all publics, who can be past, current, and potential donors (Ragsdale, 1995; Tobin, 1995) Further, members of the latent public need to be better understood bec ause of their large number (Hallah an, 2000). According to Perloff (2010), high ly involved individuals prefer information that contains more argumen ts ( termed central route processing communication involving high level mental activity by comparison with peripheral route processing communication which involves low level mental activity ) In contrast with individuals who prefer central route processing communication individuals with lower involvement follow a peripheral route processing to develop their attitudes, and as a result they pay more attention to peripheral cues, such as the source of the m essage or the situation in which they receive the message, rather than to the content of the message The elaboration likelihood model o f persuasion (ELM) provides a theoretical guideline to
15 involve the latent public ELM suggests that the more individuals are involved with an issue, the more they are willing to follow the central route to construct their attitudes toward the issue, which means when evaluating and analyzing new incoming information they elaborat e on information they have previously received (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Perloff (2010) wrote that the rocessing route, in turn, determines the type of message appeal that is maximally effective in a particular context Thus, if practitioners understand the factors im pacting a gro up of individuals and how they think about a persuasive message, the practitioners have a good chance of tailoring a message that will target th at s attitudes Based on the ELM, strategies for communicating with the latent public c an be considered N onprofit organizations migh t attract the latent public with peripheral cues, as the latent public members have low involvement and problem recognition This study states that five variables may serve as potential peripheral cues for the latent public in a fundraising setting. Thes e five variables are social information ( such as the number of individuals who donated ), recommended contribution levels gift impact the nonprofit organization s financial transparency, and the nonprofit organization s performance transparency. Social Norms and Charitable Giving When processing peripherally, individuals rely on heuristics, such as people think th is is good, then it probably is (Perloff, 2010). People infer individuals popularity from the nu mber of fr iends they have on Facebook or decide to purchase products based on online consumer ratings ( Xu et al., 2012 ). The influence of behavior can be discussed within a framework of social norms, particularly in the context of charitable giving. The social norms approach
16 states that behavior can be influenced by perceptions of how other people in the same social group think and act (Perkins & Berkowitz, 1986; Berkowitz, 2004). Perkins and Berkowitz first suggested this approach i n 1986 t o study college students alcohol use patterns. They found that college students usually overestimated their t how much alcohol an participant drinks (Perkins & Be rkowitz, 1986). Two types of social norms have been characterized by social psychologists: injunctive and descriptive social norms (Cialdini, Reno, & Kallgren, 1990). The former nk they should do while the lat t er 1990). Studies have demonstrated that emphasizing descriptive social norms can i ncrease t h behavior s will become consistent wi th these social norms For example, emphasizing the pro social descriptive norm that fewer people are now littering reduced actual littering behavior (Cialdini, Reno, & Kallgren, 1990). Discussing descriptive social norms in a fundraising setting 2009). Th e current study states that descriptive social norms can serve as a peripheral cue to increase both the participation rate of donation and the amou nt of donation (Frey & Meier, 2004; Croson, Handy & Shang, 2009; Shang & Croson, 2009). Frey and Meier (2004) conducted a field experiment to test the relationship between social information and the voluntary participation rate of donation s Each semester at the University of Zurich, when students pay tuition fees, they are solicited
17 for contributions to two charities, of CHF 7 ( about $4 ) and CHF 5 (about $3 ) Students have the option of donating to one or both of these charities or not to donate at all Twenty five hundred students were divided into three groups. One group of 1,000 students w as given the information that a high percentage (64%, which was an actual proportion in a recent semester) of the student population had contributed to th e charities in the past, while another group of 1,000 students w as provided the information that a low percentage (46%, which is the actual proportion over the last 10 years) of the student population had donated. They found the difference between the two groups was not significant. The result ing data indicated that 77% of the population in the group with high treatment ( 64% ) information contribute d to at least one charity, while 74.7% of the population in the group with low treatment ( 46% ) information also contribute d to at least one charity. Next, Frey and Meier included information about past contribution behavior. Now they f ound a significant difference between the two groups. The diffe rence in t he results indicated that the information provided by the researcher s as to the percentage of the student population that had contributed to the charities in the past did not influence two kinds of students: those who had never contributed to either of the two funds before and those who had always contributed to both of the funds. Thus the authors conclude d individuals who have strong (weak) pro social preferences are not able to increase (decrease) further their contribution. Individuals who are more indifferent to contributing react most st rongly to the According to the situational theory of publics, students who never donated before could fit the nonpublic category and students who have always donated possibly could
18 be include d in the active public and, perhaps, in part of the aware public. Therefore, the majority of students who were influenced by social information were more like ly to be the latent public While Frey and Meier (2004) demonstrated that information abou t social norms affect s the participation rate of charit able giving, other scholars demonstrated tha t information about social norms influence s the amount of the contribution. Shang and Croson (2009) conducted a field experiment to test the relationship bet increased individual contributions. The researchers collaborated with a local public radio air fund drive, researchers randoml y provided responders who call ed the station to make their pledge information about how much another donor had contributed. For the social information levels, th ey used $75 (the 50 th percentile of two previous fund drive contributions), $180 (the 85 th percentile) and $300 (the 90 th percent ile) The resulting data indicated that the $300 social inform ation condition yielded a significantly higher contribution for the control group, while the $180 treatment and the $75 treatment did not significantly aff ect the control group The authors explained that the re s ult of the $180 treatment w as comparatively only sporadically significant because of Coron, 2009, p.1435). The authors wrote that from a psychologic al perspective, behavioral goals need to be both achievable and inspiring to effectively change behavior (Locke & Latham, 1990), and though the $180 is an achievable goal it is not as inspiring as $300 (Shang & Coron, 2009).
19 Data from a nother study demons contributions influenc of descriptive social norms, which in turn influence s their giving behavior (Croson, Handy & Shang, 2009). The authors first conducted a survey among existing donors to a public radio station about their g iving behavior. Participant s who believe d that others contribute d high amounts report ed their ow n contributions as high and reported that they would contribute a higher amount in their future donations. The records of s before and after the survey support ed the information these participants reported. In addition, a field experiment was conducted to test the cau s al relationship between perceived descriptive social norms and charit able giving. High and low so cial information (which included the am contributions, some of which were higher than the a mount pledged, some lower) wa s presented to two groups of participants respectively, who were then asked how much they wou ld contribute. An analysis of the data suggest ed that individuals who were exposed to high le v el social information (others contri buted higher than the amount pledged) contribute d more than individuals who were exposed to low level social information. The researchers concluded that perceived descriptive social norms are a mediating variable between social information and the amount of future giving. While perceived descriptive social norms appear to increase the participation rate of donations and the amount of donations, all three studies discussed also mentioned that perceived social norms are much more effective on new donors than on previous histori es into account, the relationship between social norms and giving behavior
20 became significant. Shang and Croson (2009) also mentioned that information effect of $300 is robust for new members but is never significant for provided social information were around twice as likely to contribute again one year that they gave more (Shang & Croson, 2009, p. 1435). According to psychological research about social i nfluence, individuals are more likely to be affected by descriptive social norms when two conditions are met. First, there is an ambiguous perception about what should be done (Crutchfield, 1955) and second the given descriptive social norms are perceive d as relevant and appropriate (Cialdini, 1998). Fundraising campaigns for the latent public could satisfy these two conditions. Based on the psychologic al research and on the findings of field experiments by Croson et al. (2009), the current study states that when the members of the latent public who have a low level of problem recognition and problem involvement, are expose d to online solicitations, social information about the number of individuals who have already donated could serve as a peripheral c ue to reduce the ir unce r tainty and help them make a decision Therefore based on the discussion the following hypotheses are proposed : Hypothesis 1a ( H1 a ) : In online fundraising context s s ocial information about the number of individuals who have donated will increase perceived descriptive social norms Hypothesis 1b (H1b) : In online fundraising context s t he like lihood of latent public college students mak ing a gift to an organization will be increased by pres enting social information about the number of individuals who have made contributions
21 Recommended Contribution s and Charitable Giving According to t he ELM individuals with low involvement have little motivation to focus on message arguments ( Petty & Cacioppo, 1986 ). Such i ndividuals can be who look for mental shortcuts to help them decide whether to accept (Taylor, 1981). Recommended contributions could be a mental shortcut for the members of the latent public who have a low level of involvement. Field studies from the marketing and psychology literature have investigate d the impact of recommended contributions on charitable appeals. Weyant and Smith (1987) in door to door solicitations, found that did not increase the likel i hood that a gift would be made, while a request for a smaller and specific amount in door to door solicitations increase d the likelihood that a gift would be made Fraser et al (19 8 8) found that recommending a $20 donation for the Capital Area Humane Society yielded a significantly higher amount donated but no difference in the probability of donation when compared to making no recommendation. Brockner et al. (1984) also found dif ferences between charitable contributions with and without recommended contributions of either $1 or $5 They found that a specific amount recommendation increased the likelihood that a gift was made but made no difference in the probability of donations When contributors equally value the public good, v aluations are said to be homogeneous whereas when contributors differently value the public good valuations are said to be heterogeneous ( Croson & Marks 2001) Croson and Marks (2001) found that the type of valuations present significantly affected contributions They found that when contributors equally valued the public good (homogeneous valuations) higher specific amount recommendations were followed.
22 When contributors did not equally value the public good (heterogeneous valuations) the eff ect of recommendations was less significant. Th ey suggested this was perhaps because heterogen e ous valuations were more realistic in a fundraising context Thus a recommended contribution positively could impact giving behavior under some conditions. One factor that could influence the effect of a recommended contribution could be financial perception. Wiepking and Breeze (2012) conducted a study to investigate the effect of ncial position on his charitable giving, which took the actual financial resources into account. Individuals who worr ied about their financial situation preferred not to give money to charities. The scholars found that that, in general, the perception that individuals had of their financial resources, was a more important factor and influence d the amount of charitable giving more than did the actual state of the ir financial resources I ndividuals who perceive d their financial situation as mo re positive ma de more generous contributions (Havens et al., 2007). Bennett and Kottasz (2000) found that individuals who perceive d that their financial condition was better than that of others made higher contributions to relief appeals. Schlegemilch et al perception of their financial position a nd the likelihood of sponsoring and attending charitable events and donating in shops. Another factor that could influence the impact of recommended contribution s is the cost of a donation. There are two types of costs of a donation: the perceived cost and the absolute cost (Wiepking & Breeze, 2012). Perceived cost refer s to the was inc reased
23 donors m ight decline the request if the amount was perceived as excessive ( Doob & McLaughlin, 1989). W hen the perceived cost of a donation decrease d the amount given increased ( Eckel & Grossman, 2004; Karlan & List, 2006). Individuals who are at a similar financial level m ay have differ ing views on the amount they c an af ford to contribute (Lloyd, 2004). Individuals who perceive d fewer obstacles to give were found to be more likely to contribute (Smith & McSweeney, 2007). Kell y (1979) suggested that economic constraint could be an important predictor of the behavior of nondonors. In a study o f Kelly found that nondonors perceived that they had more economic constraints than did donors. In a survey that f ocused on the characteristics of donors only 21% of household incomes of $50 million or more fel t while 11% of them fel t ks (2006) reported similar findings in upper income class Americans who described themselves as s (p. 8). A difference between actual wealth amount and perceived wealth amount also exists in the U K where 25% of 76 participants whose net worth wa s at least £1 million said that they ha d low financial security while the remaining 75% of them said that if they had more money, they would increase their giving (Lloyd, 2004). In su mmary, a survey of the literatu re suggests that when fundraisers recommend contribution amounts they should perceptions of money and of the costs of the donations As different individuals have differ ing p erceptions about money and about the cost of donations, a campaign should provide options for recommended contributions for donors so they may choose an
24 option with which th ey feel most comfortable For the members of the latent public who have low involvement levels options for recommende d contribution s would provide a suitable mental shortcut. Therefore, the following hypothesis is proposed: Hypothesis 2 ( H2 ) : In online fundraising contexts, t he likeliho od of latent public college students mak ing a gift to an organization will be i ncr eased by providing a choice of recommended contribution s Outcome E fficacy and C haritable G iving According to the situational theory of publics, constraint recognition influences individuals behavior (Grunig & Repper, 1992). Constraint recognition refers to the extent to which individuals feel their abilities can impact the problem (Grunig & Hunt, 1984). According to o ne s tudy o n the effects of a drunk driving campaign constraint recognition was the most difficult factor to influence (Grunig & Ipe s, 1983). Grunig and Hunt (1984) wrote that to campaigns should decrease th at s constraint recognition. Grunig and Ipes (1983) wrote further, that p eople to develop organized cognitions and perhaps to change their behavior, it must show people how they can In a fundraising context, Kell y (1998) suggested that while the impact of a donor gift is a constraint that need s to be cleared, fundraisers can do little regarding what individuals feel are their financial constraint. The influence of the impact of contributions on givin g behavior can be discussed through the fr amework of self efficacy theory. According to self efficacy theory, an
25 mechanism of all forms of psychotherapy and behavioral change (Bandura, 1997, 1982). There are two types of expectancies that influence behavior: (a) self efficacy to change ; and (b) outcome expectanc y the expectancy that certain behaviors could result in certain outcomes (Maddux, Sherer, & Rogers, 1982). Cheung and Chen (2000) suggested that outc ome efficacy for donating to an international relief organization had a significant direct effe ct on intention to donate to an international relief organization. Sargeant et al. (2001) also found indicator of donor value is the extent to which an individual believes that their gift made Glvez Rodrguez, Caba Prez & Lpez Godoy (2012) found that more people gave food products when the statement package of pastas will help shirts. Symmetrical communication with donors describes a type of communication where ideally, the donor is involved and fully informed about the use of the gift. While the communicat ion between major gift donors and fundraisers and nonprofit organizations tends to be symmetrical communication, by comparison, annual giving donors particularly new donors of annual gifts usu ally have little knowledge about h ow fund (Grunig & Hunt, 1984, p. 358). Thus, to increase the outcome efficacy of potentia l donors it is necessary to provide information about how every gift can make a difference especially when potential donors are young adults A ccording to a survey about the charitable giving of American Millennials (age s 20 to 35) the issue they cared
26 about most was information about how their gifts would make a difference (Grossnickle & Associates, 2011) This survey of American Millenials involving 6,522 participants found that 75% of them had made donations in 2011 Of these donations, 70% were conducted online. As to motivation, 42% of the participants stated they donated to whatever inspired them in the moment. Based on th is survey and on discussion about outco me efficacy, this study states that information about the impact of gifts could serve as a peripheral cue for the latent public to make a donation decision. Therefore, the following hypotheses are proposed : Hypothesis 3a ( H3 a ) : In online fundraising contexts, i nformation about how their gifts can make a difference will increase outcome efficacy of latent public college students Hypothesis 3b (H3b) : In online fundraising contexts, t he likelihood of latent public college students making a gift to an organization will be increased by presenting information about how their gifts can make a difference. N onprofit O rganizations Accountability and Charitable Giving The ELM suggests that individuals accept recommendations to donate from communicato rs they judge to be credible Communicators are found to be credible when the communicators values or attitudes are congruent with the v alues or attitudes. (Perloff, 2010) Whalen (1996) wrote variable p. 97). Credibility is defined a McCroskey 1997, p. 87). It is an audience perception of the (Perloff, 2010) Hart, Friedrich, and Brummett (1983) wrote that is a perception of us that lies inside of the people p.
27 204). One of the most important characteristics of credibility is trustworthiness, which r (Perloff, 2010) To b e perceived as trustworthy, n onprofit organizations could build their c redibility by voluntarily demonstrat i ng their accountability to the public Edwards and Hulme (1996 organizations report t o a recognized authority (or authorities) and are hel d responsible for their actions ( p. 967 ). Similarly, Fox and Brown (1998 ) described accountability as actors responsible for actions ( p. 12 ). According to Kelly (1998 ), for nonprofit organizations to demonstrat e accountability requires these organizations to ( p. 227 ) to both society as a whole and to the different stakehold ers. N onprofit organizations accountability is a factor Sloan (2009) looked at New York charities and measured the relationship between the amount of the contributions t hey receive d and their ratings by the Better Business Bur Sloan found that rating ha d a significant effect on the contributions received. s and the nonprofit organizations I n turn, the trust can enhance public support, including individual willingness to give time and money to causes they care about. Dutch scholar Bekkers (2003) found that individuals who trust nonprofit organizations contribute more. Data from outside academia indicat e the same result. According to Independent Sector (2002), there was a 50% difference in the amount of
28 annual contributions to charity between donors who had high levels of trust in charities and donors with low levels of such trust Trust relationships are built on a high degree of transparency and openness. Transparency refers to actions creating credible governance systems, providing visible performance measurement systems, and providing i nformation about the pricing of services and charity care (Summer s & Nowicki, 2006). T ransparency refer s not only to access to nonprofit organizations but also to the voluntary disclosure of the same (Turilli & Floridi, 2009). The voluntary disclosure of information is considered a response to the requirements of regulators and watchdog groups (Meyer & to decide whether their support for and trust in a p (NCVO, 2004, p 9). Research has shown that trust has three benefits for private organizations: increased public funding, organizational stability and ongoing independence (Mazzola et al. 2006). Cordery and Bashervil le (2011) wrote that these benefits are also applicable to nonprofit organizations As trustworthiness can be gained through transparency and openness, a good way for nonprofit organizations to show their accountab ility is to communicate with public s volu ntarily and transparently. The demonstration should be done by the nonprofit organizations themselves. One survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates (2001), found that the nonprofit organization itself is the first preferred resource from which donors want to obtain information about th at nonprofit organization s accountability.
29 In the nonprofit organizations sector, the Internet is regarded as a tool to enhance information transparency ( Glvez Rodrguez, Caba Prez & Lpez Godoy, 2012 ). S axton and Guo (2011) proposed that there are two dimensions to nonprofit organizations these contains two elements. Disclosure refers to the disclosure of financial and performance information ; dialogue refers to solicitation of stakeholder input and interactive engagement. Th e present study focuses on financial and performance disclosure s and states that these two factors could serve as peripheral cues f or the latent public who could be engaged by credible communicators. Therefore, the following hypotheses are proposed : Hypothesis 4a ( H4a ) : In online fundraising contexts, financial transparency will increase the trust of latent public college students Hypothesis 4 b (H4 b ) : In online fundraising contexts, t he likelihood of latent public college students making a gift to an organization will be increased by making available the Hypothesis 5 a (H 5 a) : In online fundraising contexts, performance transparency will increase the trust of latent public college students Hypothesis 5b (H 5b ) : In online fundraising contexts, th e likelihood of latent public college students making a gift to an organization will be increased by presenting the performance disclosure information After a review of the literature (a) about ELM ; (b) of the situational theory of publics ; and (c) of the relationships between social norms, recommended contributions and nonprofit organizations accountability an d charitable giving, this study states that
30 social information about (a) the number of individuals who have donated ; (b) option s for recommende d contribution s ; (c) information about the impact of gifts ; (d) the presence of transparency ; and (e) performance transparency ; could serve as peripheral cues to engage the latent public Two research questions are proposed here: Research Question 1 ( RQ1 ) : Does the condition consisting of the combined variables generate a higher donation intention than the conditions consisting of one of the se variable s ? Research Quest ion 2 (RQ2) : Does the condition consisting of the combined variables generate more influence on each dependent variable than does the control group ? In a survey of the charitable giving of American Millennial s (ages 20 to 35) 75% of young adults who donated in 2011 did so online (Grossnickle & Associ ates, 2011). As online fundraising seems to be a trend for small gift fundraising in the future (Blackbaud, 2012 ; Wallace, 2010), this study focus es on online fundraising targeting American college student s.
31 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Study Design This experiment include d six conditions and a control group : The manipulated independent variables were (a) social information about the number of individuals who have donated ; (b) option s for recommended amount s of contribution s; (c) information about the impact of gift s ; (d) the financial transparency of the nonprofit organization ; and (e) the performance transparency of the nonpr ofit organization The s ix conditions were : (a ) A nonprofit organization web donation page that include d ( i ) a high number of individuals who have made contributions ; ( ii ) option s for recommended contribution s ; (iii) information about the impact of gifts; and performance information. ( b ) A nonprofit org anization web donation page that include d only the information that a high number of people have made contributions. (c) A nonprofit organization web donation page that provide d only options for recommended contributions. (d) A nonprofit organization web donation page that contain ed only information about gift impact. (e) A nonprofit organization web donation page that contain ed only the (f) A nonprofit organization web donation page that contain ed only the organ
32 Each participant saw only one appeal. A control group was also included. Independent Variables This study ha d one independent variable, which was the provision of peripheral cue s for latent public college students in onl ine fundraising context s The independent variable include d five types of peripheral cues : (a) social information about the number of individuals who have donated; (b) recommended contribution levels ; (c) gift impact ; (d) transparency; and (e) performance transparency. These five peripheral cues were manipulated through verbiage in a mock charity appeal for a fictitious charity. The n umber given of individuals who have contributed to the charity wa s varied for the social norms manipulation. Information about the impact of the gifts wa s varied for outcome efficacy manipulation s. According to Saxton and Guo (2011), in the online environment, financial disclosure content includes in formation on administrative cost s for fundraising ; fund investment, management and spending policies; investment philosophies; investment performance and asset growth; audited and unaudited financial reports; Internal Revenue Service ( IRS) 990 forms; overhead costs; annual reports; codes of ethics and conflict of interest policies; and adherence to best practice standards. For this study, the financial disclosure content was presented through a nonprofit expense located c harts which present ed a cost benefit ratio, detailing the relationship between fundraising cost s and the amount received by beneficia r ies. Regarding the performance disclosure content, Saxton and Guo (2011) suggested that it should include two types of information First, it should include what the organization is trying to achieve Second it should include what the organization already has achieved in terms of outputs, outcomes, and broader community impacts. For this
33 study, the p erformance disclosure content include d the outcomes and impact of the campaign. In addition, background characteristics, including income, gender, race, and past donation behavior m ay have significant effects on the intention to donate Past studies have shown these factors contribute to donation s and guide behavior (Lammers, 1991; Midlarsky & Hannah, 1989; Yavas et al., 1993). Dependent Variables Donation intention To measur e donation intention two items were adapted from the study of Basil et al. (2008) on guilt and giving: 1) I would like to make a donation to this organization; and 2) After seeing this web page, I want to make a donation. A seven point numeric bipolar scale ranging from strongly disag ree (1 ) to strongly agree (7) was attached to each statement. The reliability of items was Perceived Social Norms To measure the perceived descriptive social norms, f our item s were developed based on the study by Croson et al. (2009) about the relationship of perceived descriptive social norms and charitable giving: 1) Majority of people who viewed the page support the cause, 2) More people will support the cause in the near future, 3) Majority of people who viewed the page contributed to the ca use, and 4) More people will contribute to the cause in the near future. Outcome E fficacy Five items were adapted from a study investigating self efficacy towards service a nd business student civic participation (Weber, et al., 2004) to measure outcome efficacy: 1) My contribution can have a positive impact on the cause, 2) My contribution
34 can help children in this situation, 3) I am confident that my contribution can help these children, 4) My contribution can make a diff erence in the cause, and 5) Each of these contributions can make a difference in the cause. The re liability of this set of item s was 0.80 ). A seven p oint numeric bipolar scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7) was attached to each statement. Trust in N onprofit O rganizations The nonprofit organization was abbreviated as NPO. Four items were adapted from a study by Sargeant et al. (2006) on perceptual determinants of nonprofit giving behavior: 1) I would trust this NPO to act in the best interest of the cause, 2) I would trust this NPO to conduct its operations ethically, 3) I would trust this NPO to use donated funds appropriately, and 4) I would trust this NPO not to exploit its donors. The re l iability of this set of items was ) A seven point numeric bipolar scales ranging from strongly disag ree (1) to strongly agree (7) was attached to each statement. Stimuli Two rounds of pretests w ere conducted to select a cause for which most American college students are the latent public In the first round pretest, 12 items were involvement, and constraint recognition. A 7 point scale was employed. Twenty three u ndergraduate students, including six males and 17 females, completed questionnaires. The widely used t test is a statistical hypothesis that is used to assess whether or not the results of two groups such as a control group compared to one or more other groups, are statistically different from each other In this procedure, the test subjects are randomly assigned to two groups so that differences in responses are due to the conditions of the test and n ot to other factors. The t test is useful even in evaluating a
35 small sample. In th e present study, an independent samples t test was conducted to examine gender differences. N one of 10 issues was found to demonstrate any significant gender difference s A mong 10 issues, issu e 3 (Provide free specialty eye care hospital for the rural poor in India) generated a relative ly low level of problem recognition (M = 3.55, the lowest one), a low level of involvement (M = 5.20, the lowest one), and an almost neutral level of constraint recognition (M = 4.31). The topic generated a neutral level of donation intention (M = 4.13). In the second round pretest, five issues including issue 3 of the first round pretest and four issu es similar to it were t tested Twenty one undergraduate students, including nine males and 12 females, completed questionnaires. T o shorten survey time, six more easily answered items were adapted from Gunig (1997). For each item, participants were asked to choose requ encies test was conducted to identify the distribution of the latent public of each issue. Based on the data, issue 2 (Implement a fruit tree planting program in the Tansa Valley in India) was chosen to be the fundraising cause in the experiment. A low level of involvement in the issue was found in 85.7% of the participants ; a low level of problem recognition of the issue was found in 76.2% of the participants ; and a low level of constraint recognition of the issue was found in 95.2% of the participants An independent samples t t est conducted to examine gender dif ferences of issue 2 found no significant gender differences. T o confirm that the participants of the experiment were the latent public of the cause, si x items used in the second round of prete st were adapted to interests in the cause. The results based on a 7 point scale indicated that participants
36 had a low involvement level (M = 3.07, SD = 1.29), a low level of constraint recognition (M = 3.85, SD = .95), and a medium lev el of problem recognition (M = 4.15, SD = 1.27). The score of problem re cognition was higher than 4 on the 7 point scale in the experiment perhaps due to the experiment s environment. So this study still considered the participants as the latent public of the cause. Participants were invited to view the mock charity web donation page of a fictit ious charity. The information was constant across all experimental conditions. In addition, the web donation page included a combination of verbiage for the inde pendent variables or verbiage for one of the independent variables. The participants were randomly assigned to one of the conditions. The mock web donation page s var ied across conditions only in terms of the manipulated independent variables to ensure tha t differences were due to the independent variable manipulations. Sample and Procedure This study recruit ed 2 78 college students. All participants participated voluntarily in this experiment. Students who participated in this study obtained extra credit as compensation. For data collection, t he online survey platform Qualtrics, was used A link to the experiment generated by the Qualtrics software was sent to the students. The Qualtrics software randomly assigned them to one of six experiment conditions and a control group. The first question of the questionnaire was the informed consent. P articipants who cho did not see any of the content of the experiment. After being exposed to a web donation page participants were asked to answer a series of manipulation check questions to ensure that they receive d the intended
37 e xperiment. P articipants were asked to answer the entire questionnaire. Basic demographic questions were asked. To obtain extra credits, b efore the participants submitted questionnaire s they were asked to provide their UFID and their first initial and last name. The data were used on ly for grading purposes and the
38 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Analysis Summary Only 250 participants o f the 278 participant responses collected from Q ualtrics, were found to have successfully completed the questionnaire. To analyze the data, the IBM SPSS Statistics 20 system was employed. To test hypotheses and research questions t he i ndependent s ample t t est p rocedure was used Profile of Participants A total of 250 questionnaires were collected at the University of F lorida in 2013. Of the participants, o ver 200 were from a freshm e n level online course in the Coll ege of Liberal Arts and Sciences while others were from undergraduate level courses in the College of Journalism and Communications. Participants were comprised of 28% (n = 70) males and 72% (n = 180) females, age s from 16 to 23 years old (M = 20). The 250 participants were randomly assigned to six condition groups and one control group (Table 4 1). In terms of the group allocation, 43 participants were in the condition with combined variable s 31 participants were in the condition with social information, 34 participants were in the condition with recommended contribution levels 38 participants were i n the condition with gift impact information, 31 participants were in the condition with the mission information of the nonprofit organization and 41 participants were in the condition with the financial information of the nonprofit organization Finally, t he control group was comprised of 32 participants. Manipulation and the S uccess of the Random Assignment C hecks F ive questions were asked for the manipulation check and one or two questions were asked for each condition as follows
39 1. For the conditio n containing social information, o ne participant did not correctly answer the question tree planting program 2. To check whether participants saw the manipulation information, t he question asked was Three participants did not answer the question correctly 3. For the condition with gift impact information, a ll bu t five participants correctly answered the two m anipulation check questions and farmers to plant trees effectively, according to the information on this 4. For the condition with the nonprofit financial information, the question asked was N ine participants did not answer the question correctly 5. I n the condition containing combined variables a ll but eight participants answered all five questions correctly Therefore, 26 sets of data were eliminated, leaving a valid sample totalling 224 part icipants Among the valid samples, 35 participants were in the condition with combined variables, 30 were in the condition with social information, 31 were in the condition with recommended contribution levels 33 were in the condition with gift impact inf ormation, 31 were in the condition with the nonprofit mission information, 32 were in
40 the condition with the nonprofit financial information and 32 were in the control group (Table 4 2 ). T o test the success of the random distr ibution a one way ANOVA test was employed ANOVA analysis of variance is a group of statistical model s that are used to analy z e experimental data. Here, t he one way ANOVA test results indicated a successful random assignment as follows : for problem recognition, p = .57; for level of involvement, p = .76; for constraint recognition, p = .21. Results of t he ANOVA test of all of the dependent variables w ere not significant, demonstrating that the participant s were random ly distributed into each cell. Hypothesis and Research Q uestions Testing Hypothesis 1a ( H1a ) predicted that in online fundraising contexts, social information about the number of individuals who have donated will increase the perceived descriptive social norms of latent public college students A n independent samples t test was employed to examine differences of perceived descriptive social norms of l atent public college students between the con dition that contained social information and the control group. A significant difference was found ( t (60) = 2.61, p < .05). The participants exposed to the condition with social information revealed a higher level of perceived descriptive social norms (M = 4.29, SD = .92) than the control group (M = 3.64, SD = 1.04). Therefore, H1a was supported. Hypothesis 1b ( H1b ) predicted that in online fundraising contexts, the likelihood of the latent public college students making a gift to an organization will be increased by presenting social information about the number of individuals who have made contributions. An independent samples t test was conducted but no significance was found ( t (60) = .87, p = .20). Therefore H1b was not supported.
41 Hypothesis 2 b (H2b) predicted that in online fundraising contexts, the likelihood of the laten t public college students making a gift to an organization will be increased by providing options for recommended contributions. T he result of an independent samples t test was insignificant (t (61) = .01, p = .50). Therefore, H2 was not supported. Hypothesis 3a (H3a) predicted that in online fundraising contexts, information about how their gifts can make a difference will increase the outcome efficacy of the latent public college students An independent samples t test was conducted and the resul t was significant ( t (63) = 1.98, p < .05). The latent public college students who were exposed to information about gift impact demonstrated a higher level of outcome efficacy (M = 5.02, SD = 1.08) than did those in the control group (M = 4.44, SD = 1.26). Therefore, H3a was supported. Hypothesis 3b (H3b) predicted that in online fundraising contexts, the likelihood of the latent public college students making a gift to an organization will be increased by presenting information about how their gifts can make a difference An independent samples t test was employed to examine the difference of donation intention between the condition containing gift impact information and the control group. A significant dif ference was found ( t (63) = 1.82, p < .05). Participants who were exposed to gift impact information demonstrated a higher level of donation intention (M = 2.97, SD = 1.18) than did participants in the control group (M = 2.46, SD = 1.07). Therefore, H3b was supported. Hypothesis 4a ( H4a ) predicted that in online fundraising contexts, information demonst r ating a nonprofit organization financial transparency will increase the trust of latent public college students An independent samples t test was conducted but no
42 significant difference was found ( t (62) = .96, p = .17). Therefore H4a was not supported. Hypothesis 4b ( H4b ) predicted that in online fundraising contexts, the likelihood of latent public college students making a gift to an organization will be increased by independent samples t test was conducted, but no significant result was found ( t (62 ) = .62, p = .27). Therefore, H4b was not supported. Hypothesis 5a ( H5a ) predicted that in online fundraising contexts, information demonstrating a nonprofit organization performance transparency will increase the trust of l atent public college student s An independent samples t test was employed to compare the level of trust in an organization between participants who were exposed to information about who were in the control group. There was no significant difference found between the two groups ( t (61) = .03, p = .49). Therefore, H5a was not supported. Hypothesis 5b ( H5b ) predicted that in online fundraising contexts, the likelihood of the latent public colleg e students making a gift to an organization will be increased disclosure information. An independent samples t test was conducted and a significant result was found ( t (61) = 1.67, p < .05). dona tion intention disclosure (M = 2.95, SD = 1.30) was higher than that of participants in the control group (M = 2.46, SD = 1.07). Therefore, H5b was supported. Research Question 1 ( RQ1 ) asked whether the condition made up of the combined variables generated a higher donation intention than the condition consisting
43 of only one variable. Independent samples t test s were conducted to compare the donation intention of participants in the condition consis ting of combined variables, with the donation intention of participants in the condition consisting of one variable, and only one significant difference was found This significant difference was found in the condition containing the al disclosure information ( t (65) = 1.89, p < .05). In addition, one near ly significant difference was found: the condition with recommended contribution levels ( t (64) = 1.43, p = .08). Participants in the condition with combined variables demonstrated higher donation intention ( M = 2.94, SD = 1.06) than did participants in the condition containing the nonprofit financial information ( M = 2.30, SD = 1.12). There was no signific ant difference when comparing conditions that were combined wit h other one variable conditions (compared to the condition contain ing social information : t (63) = .92, p = .18; compared to the condition contain ing gift impact information : t (66) = .64, p = .27; and compared to the condition contain ing the nonprofit org performance disclosure information : t (64) = .63, p = .27). Research Question 2 ( RQ2 ) asked whether the condition of the combined variables generated more influence on each dependent variable than did the control group. An independent samples t test was conducted and significant results were found ( donation intention : t (65) = 2.62, p < .05; perceived descriptive social norms : t (65) = 3.61, p < .05; outcome efficacy : t (65) = 2.10, p < .05; and trust in nonprofit organizations : t (65) = 3.44, p < .05). ). The condition of the combined variables was more influential on each dependent variable than was the control group.
45 Table 4 1. Random a ssignment of p articipants in s even c onditions Table 4 2 Valid s amples in s even c onditions
46 Table 4 3 Results of h ypotheses Dependent Variable Condition M SD Sig. Perceived d escriptive s ocial n orms Social i nformation Control g roup 4.29 3.64 .92 1.04 <.05 Donation intention Social i nformation Control g roup 2.69 2.46 1.02 1.07 .20 Donation intention Recommended c ontribution l evel s 2.46 1.07 .50 Control g roup 2.46 1.07 Outcome e fficacy Gift i mpact 5.02 1.08 <.05 Control g roup 4.44 1.26 Donation intention Gift i mpact 2.97 1.18 <.05 Control g roup 2.46 1.07 Trust in the nonprofit organization Financial t ransparency 3.94 1.07 .17 Control g roup 3.64 1.33 Donation intention Financial t ransparency 2.63 1.16 .27 Control g roup 2.46 1.06 Trust in the nonprofit organization Performance t ransparency 3.64 1.49 .49 Control g roup 3.64 1.33 Donation intention Performance t ransparency 2.96 1.30 <.05 Control g roup 2.46 1.07
47 Table 4 4 Results of r esearch q uestion o ne Dependent v ariable Condition M SD Sig. Donation intention Combined 2.94 1.06 <.05 Control 2.46 1.07 Perceived d escriptive s ocial n orms Combined 4.58 .67 <.05 Control 3.64 1.04 Outcome e fficacy Combined 5.16 .98 <.05 Control 4.44 1.26 Trust in the nonprofit organization Combined 4.88 1.37 <.05 Control 3.65 1.33 Table 4 5 Results of R esearch Q uestion T wo Dependent v ariable Condition M SD Sig. Donation intention Combined 2.94 1.06 .18 Social i nformation 2.69 1.02 Combined 2.94 1.06 .08 Recommended c ontribution l evel s 2.54 1.06 Combined 2.94 1.06 .27 Gift i mpact 2.99 1.20 Combined 2.94 1.06 <.05 Financial t ransparency 2.30 1.12 Combined 2.94 1.06 .27 Performance t ransparency 2.96 1.30
48 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION The principal aim of this study was to examine whether peripheral cues social information about the number of individuals who have donated, recommended contribution level s would affect latent public college students giving intentions This study found that by comparison to the control group, t wo variables had a statistically significant effect on donation intention : gift impact information and information on the The finding that gift impact information had a significant effect on latent public college students giv ing intention is consistent with a survey about the charitable giving of American Millennials (age s 20 to 35 ), which found that gift impact information was the most important factor to donors who are from ages 20 to 35 (Grossnicle & Associates, 2011). Th e present study narrowed down th at target group to the latent public college students exposed to an online fundraising campaign topic, and demonstrated that gift impact information could be a peripheral cue to influence their online donation intention This study found that in an online context, information about a nonprofit the latent public college students donation intention This finding reflects the findings of previous research about American Millenni Grossnicle & Associates, 2012). The American Milennials study conducted focus groups and an online survey and found that Millennials prefer to learn about a nonprofit organization through its website. Participants of the focus at survey indicated that 9 out of
49 10 of the participants would go first to the page that describes the mission of the organization. Among all the features found on a nonprofit he only information that rated a greater than 50% favorability was information on the giving part of the survey th e present study demonstrate d that providing mission information is a factor that can increase latent public college students donation intention Therefore, in an online fundraising context, information about a nonprofit mission can serve as a peripheral cue to increase the latent public college students donation intention In t h e present study four relationships were examined 1. The first relationship examine d was whether social information about the number of individuals who have donated would increase the latent public college students individual donation intention and donation amount ( Frey & Meier 2004; Croson, Handy & Shang 2009; Shang & Croson 2009). Croson, Handy and Shang (2009) found ocial norms, which serves as a mediating variable between social information and future giving amount. The present study found that in an online giving context, while this social information had a significant effect on the latent public college students perceived descriptive social norms it did not increase their donation intention 2. The second relationship examined was whether demonstrating the impact of the gift in advance would increase outcome efficacy This mechanism, the
50 demonstrating of the imp act of a future act, is also one of the underlying mechanism s of all forms of psychotherapy and behavioral change (Bandura, 1997, 1982). Grunig and Hunt (1984) wrote that to campaigns should decrease constr aint recognition by showing publics that their behavior can change a situa tion. Th e present This study d that in an online fundraising context, gift impact information increases the donation intention of latent public college students and thus significantly can increase the outcome efficacy 3. The third relationship examined in this study was whether demon strating a nonprofit would increase trust in the organization which in turn donation intention S ome s tudies have found a positive relationship between the se (Sloan, 2009; Bekkers, 2003) Th e present study tested donation intention to nonprofit organizations from two perspectives o f the nonprofit organization : ( a ) transparency, and (b) disclosures -providing information on performance and financial disclosure. No correlation was found between these two kinds of disclosure s As Saxton and Guo (2011) proposed that such practices have two dimensions These are (a) dialogue a nd (b) di sclosure As to disclosure, t his study focused on providing financial disclosure and on providing information on performance Information on t he was provided only as part of the p erformance disclosure s were presented through the use of e xpense pie c harts The correlation was negative. The reason for the
51 negative correlation results here could be that the variables of this study were not sufficiently comprehensive to cover a nonprofit organization transparency. 4. The fou rth and final relationship examined in this study was whether a condition consisting of combined variables would affect the latent public college students donation intention perceived social norms, outcome efficacy, and trust in a nonprofit organization (a) Condition of combined variables: Th is study found that the condi tion consisting of combined variables ha d a significant effect on all d ependent variabl es. (b) The latent public college online donation intention : This study found that the latent public college donation intention was significantly affected only by gift impact information and by providing also, the mission This positive result could be due to a combination of these two variables. (c) Combined variables compared to control group: When the control group was compared with the condition consisting of combined variables this study found that except for one condition, all conditions containing only one independent vari able had a significant impact on perceived descriptive social norms The one exception was for the condition containing recommended contribution levels. This unexpected finding wa s that recommended contribution levels did not significant ly influence any dependent variable. Th is finding could be explained by results of the charitable giving ( Grossnicle & Associates, 2012) In the latter, the scholar s reported that young donors did not like nonprofit organizations to tell them how much to give. Further investigation will be needed to see whether recommended contribution levels could affect other groups donation intention
52 (d) The latent public college students The results of the present study are that the following increase the latent public college he combination of ( i ) social information consisting of the number of individuals who have contributed ; ( ii ) gift impact information ; ( iii ) information on the ; and ( iv ) financial disclosure by the organization (e) O utcome efficacy: O nly gift impact information had a significant effect on outcome efficacy. Th e influence on outcome efficacy by the combined variables may have come from only one of those variables, the one providing gift impact information (f) The latent public college students : Not pr evious ly discussed, but based on the data, the latent public college students the nonprofit organization was not generated by transparency but by gift impact information Therefore, the significant effect of the condition of the combined variable s on the latent public college students nonprofit organization came from information regarding gift impact. (g) C ombined variables impact ing significant ly on all dependent variables : The finding that the combined variables impact ed significantly on all dependent variables could be explained by a study on the charitable giving of American Millennials ( Grossnicle & Associates, 2012). The study reported that American Millennial s the character of the organization with its presenc authors wrote, second judgment, the overall look of the site also plays a role in ing
53 combined variables might have impress ed the participants with its prof essional and informative look This study also investigated the relationships between latent public college donation intention and their donation history, family income, and race. No significant result was found b donation intention family incomes were found, no significant result was found between their donation intention and their famil y income. Theor etical and P ra ctical C ontributions From a theoretical perspective, the first contribution of this study is the application of the situational theory of publics to a new area: online fundraising Werder (2005) wrote that message development and campaign design could benefit if the members of the public s could be segmented on the basis of their active engagement with an issue. The situational theory of public s c ould be applied to segment the public s in the public relations area. P revious studies have applied the situational theory of publics to practices focused on public health and education efforts (Cameron & Yang, 1991; Dorner & Coombs, 1994; Pavlik, 1988). Th e present study applied the the ory in an online fundraising context to identify certain characteristics affecting latent public college students in relation to a t ree planting program in India. A second theoretical contribution of this study is in the identification of two factors that can serve as peripheral cue s for latent public college students in online fundraising campaigns. Previous studies about the ELM have usually focused on the advertising and political are n as. This study introduced the ELM into the fundraising area. Based on
54 the ELM, this study propose d five factors that could be potential peripheral cues for latent public college students and demonstrated by experiments that gift impact and organization mission information are effective peripheral cues for this group. This study contribute d to fundrai sing research by providing a new method to segment the public s in online fundraising contexts and applie d the ELM to develop strategies to engage latent public college students Traditionally, in the fundraising arena, researchers and practitioners segmented donors into major and annual gift donors distinguished channels and developed strategies for communicating with donors Al t hough scholars mention the situational theory of publics in fundraising studies (K elly, 1998), there are few discussion s concerning segmenting donors according to the theory (e g. Kelly, 1979, applied the situational theory of publics to segment alumni donors) With the appearance of such new technologies as the Internet and social media, fundraisers can reach and communica te with a broader public In such a n environment publics can be segmented more thoroughly than before so that effective strategies may be developed to better communicate with each group. This study explored this area and focused on the latent public of a campaign topic, a group rarely discussed previously and deserving of better understanding because of its large number (Hallahan, 2000 ). Focusing on the low level involvement characteristic of the latent public this study applied the ELM as a theor eti cal guideline to develop strategies to engage latent public college students a group attracted by peripheral cues. Perloff (2010) described two routes that process a message : (a) central route processing involving high mental activity ; and (b) peripheral route processing involving low mental activity. Perloff (2010) wrote that
55 t he ELM, persons in the latent public group tend to follow peripheral route processing when facing a fundraising campaign message. This study proposed five potential peripheral cues and found two of them to be effective in increasing l atent public college students donation intention in an online fundraising context. For practitioners, th e present study provided two factors impacting latent public college students and provided data on how they react to being presented with recommended contribution levels and with a nonprofit organizati information, factors traditionally used in persuasive message s in fundraising campaigns. Based on these findings, practitioners have a better chance of tailoring a message that will target the latent public college students in an online cont ext. When designing an online fundraising campaign targeting latent public college students two kinds of information sh ould be included: gift impact information and information about the nonprofit organization mission. If a donation webpage could include only one kind of information studied in this research, the information should be gift impact but not recommended contribution level s b ecause gift impact information had a significant effect on donation intenti on perceived social norms, outcome efficacy, and trust in the nonprofit organizations while including recommended contribution levels had no significant effect on any of these variables. Also, if an online donation webpage targeting latent public college students could combine : gift impact information the nonprofit organization mission, and social information about the number of individuals who have donated, the effe ct on their donation intention w ould be better than a webpage including only one of the se Further research will have to be conducted to find
56 out whether s olicitations including one or all three of these kinds of information could affect the latent public s donation intention in other media such as in social media, in a way similar to that i n which they affected it here, in the online fundraising context Implication s For future study, the first implication of this study is that researchers could extend the group of participants from college students to the general public to see whether age and education levels could be variables influencing the donation intention of the latent public in relation to a specific fundraising appeal. Second, future study could investigate whether gift impact information is perceived by the lat ent public as a part of nonprofit organizations transparency, because gift impact information significantly increased nonprofit organization Third, further research could test these variables in other contexts, such as in socia l media. For example, regarding social information about social norms, in a social media context, researchers could use the whether this kind of message more significantly could affect the latent donation intention Fourth for future study a comparison study could be used to examine whether these variables play the same roles in different cultural environments. As websites can be accessed globally, whether these variables have the same impact on the latent public of a campaign topic in other cultures and countries could be investigated. For example the question of the effects of social norm information wo uld be different in culture s that value individualism compared to that in cultures that value collectivism may merit future research ( Lapinski & Rimal, 2005 ; Ostrom, 2000 ) In addition, this study has some implications for the benefit of future online pu blic relations campaigns. First, future study could examine whether the situational theory of
57 publics, used here in the context of online fundraising, is an effective way to segment publics in other types of online public relations campaigns. As previously discussed, such new media as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube enable organizations and companies to reach a greater number of individuals than ever before. Therefore, to more effectively communicate with all publics, new theories and methods of segmenting p ublics should be discussed. Second, future research could investigate the latent public of topics other than fundraising, such as the latent public of public health and environmental campaigns. Third, future research could apply the ELM to the latent publ ic of other public relation campaigns and find effective peripheral cues for the group. Limitation s This study ha d several limitations. First, the sample population consist ed of college students from one S outhern United States university. Second, in the condition involving the mission of the nonprofit organization the questionnaire missed manipulation check questions. This limitation probably left some data that could have biased the results of this condition, related to participants who did not notice the manipulation. The third limitation wa s that the experimental environment could influence level of attention. Regarding the situational theory of publics the consequence of studying the theory in an experimental setting is a fundamental m ethodological concern. The theory asks, to what extent will individuals focus their attention on a message they encounter in the course of their daily lives ? By comparison, in an experimental setting, participants are asked to read or view a message and fo rced to answer manipulation checking questions. Thus participants probably g ave more
58 attention to the message in this experimental setting than would be given in the world although the amount and type of attention participants give to a message i s likely to vary. In this experimental setting study, t he reception processes of participants were not identical to the passive reception of information that would exist were the information encountered in the real world The attention they directed to the webpages that could be easily studied in an experimental setting likely could be somewhat different than that addressed in the situational theory of publics The same issue applie s to the ELM in an experimental setting Under the ELM when individuals process messages through a peripheral route, they are by chance engage d by a peripheral cue By comparison, in this experimental setting, participants were asked to carefully review all content on the mock donation webpage, which could have led them to direct more attention to those manipulated peripheral cues than they would have directed had these cues been presented in a real world situation. An unexpected limitation of this study is that the researcher might narrowly have defined the nonprofit or performance disclosure According to the literature previously reviewed, a nonprofit organization performance disclosure in this study could have be en presented by outcome and impact of the nonprofit organization campaign. However, the researcher here presented only the Conclusion This study explored online fundraising campaigns targeting latent public college students and found factors that effectively increas ed the latent public college students donation intention T heoretically, t he significant contribution of this study is that the
59 study focused on the latent public of an online fundraising c ampaign, a group rarely discussed previously and introduced the situational theory of publics and the ELM in online fundraising setting a main trend for future fundraising, to investigate factor s that could serve as peripheral cues that practitioners could apply to develop messag es to attract the latent public and to effectively increase their donation intention Practically, the findings in this study will be helpful in assist ing fundraisers to more effectively communicate with the latent public of an online fundraising campaign. When designing an online fundraising webpage, the page should include information about a nonprofit recommending how much a donor should contribute. Additionally, a fundraising webpage that is pro duced professional ly is more attractive to the members of the latent public. Th e results of th is study will help practitioners preparing online public relations campaigns to communicate effectively with the latent public of their topics Future research can apply the situational theory of public s and the ELM to segregate the public s and develop online communication strategies.
60 APPENDIX A LAYOUT OF THE MOCK WEBPAGE Figure A 1. Webpage with combined variables
61 Figure A 2. Webpage with social information
62 Figure A 3. Webpage with recommended contribution level s
63 Figure A 4. Webpage with gift impact information
64 Figure A 5. Webpage with the nonprofit organization
65 Figure A 6. Webpage with the nonprofit organization
66 Figure A 7. Webpage for the c ontrol group
67 APPENDIX B QUESTIONNAIRE FOR EXPERIMENT GROUPS Figure B 1. P age one of questionnaire for experiment groups Figure B 2. Page two of questionnaire for experiment groups
68 Figure B 3. Page three of questionnaire for experiment groups Figure B 4. Page four of questionnaire for experiment groups
69 Figure B 5. Page five of questionnaire for experiment groups Figure B 6. Page of six of questionnaire for experiment groups
70 Figure B 7. Page seven of questionnaire for experiment groups Figure B 8. Page eight of questionnaire for experiment groups
71 Figure B 9. Page nine of questionnaire for experiment groups Figure B 10. Page ten of que stionnaire for experiment groups
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79 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Xi Liu was born and raised in Wuhan, China. She re ceived her Bachelor of Chinese literature and l in guistics and Master of Chinese l inguistics degrees from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. After g raduati on she started to work as a magazine editor at the Legend Publishing Company. She joined the graduate program in the University of Florida, College of Journalism and Comm unications in January 2011 and majored in international/intercultural c ommunication. Her graduate studies focus on social media effects and fundraising. She will receive her M aster of A rt s in m ass c ommunication degree in August 2013.