To Increase Charitable Donations, Appeal to the Heart — Not the Head

One pitch for charity described the needs of Rokia, a young girl in Africa who is desperately poor and faces starvation. Another pitch talks about food shortages affecting more than three million children, many of whom are homeless. Which pitch is more effective? Not surprisingly, it’s the first, but Wharton marketing professor Deborah Small and two co-authors delve deeper into the issue of sympathy and how it relates to charitable giving. Their paper is titled, “Sympathy and Callousness: The Impact of Deliberative Thought on Donations to Identifiable and Statistical Victims.”