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Consumer Motives for Charity Donations

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

1. Introduction

Consumer motives and behaviour into donating to charity in general is a topic that is known to have a lack of research, creating an issue of ambiguity for charitable organisations. Most research existing is based on cause related marketing, the cooperative alliances between charities and corporations to gain charity funding, yet little in depth research exists on the area of personal financing from consumers in the form of donations. With figures from 2001 showing that the top 25 UK companies gave £102 million to charity, with as much as £31 million per donation, it is evident that it is most probably the case that the percentage of charity financing does come from corporations, at least for the larger corporations with many strategic alliances in the sector (Smith J. , n.d.). Although this should not mean that other areas of financing should be overlooked; particularly in a society in which social responsibility is growing in importance. Furthermore, neglecting this area of financing could eventually change the entire focus and structure of charities, leaving the individual consumers out of the equation altogether. But of upmost importance is the fact that as stated by Patrick Cox, Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition, “cash donations are usually the primary source of fundraising income for small organisations”, suggesting that a failure to correctly understand consumer behaviour could lead to the diminishment of the small charity (Critchly, 2009). However, also considered within this research is the issue of consumer confidence in donating, whether consumer beliefs of misallocating financing, bureaucracy, and red tape is a significant factor in charity size preferences.

Therefore this report serves the purpose of researching consumer motives in personal individual charitable contributions, examining whether these motives differ by the size of the organisation; in this research size is defined by the focus of the charity, being local based, national based or international based, therefore focusing on where the funds are placed as opposed to the actual numerical size of the organisation. The hypothesis to be tested is that consumer behaviour indicators change according to the size of the organisation. However, this research will only be based on the donative non-profit unit of the charities, meaning that it will only investigate the significance upon individual consumer contributions, and not any other areas of financing such as corporation or other organisational or governmental funding. Additionally, this research will not take into account the contributions made in the form of legacies.

The study itself is based upon a model of charitable giving behaviour, which has been formed in consideration of other models of consumer behaviour, but also taking into account the information available in the field of charitable consumer behaviour. The model considers the areas of organisational inputs, psychological attachment, consumer confidence and experience alongside a selection of extrinsic determinants, namely consumer demographic factors. Quantitative research methods in the form of an online survey are adopted to test this model, in which 196 respondents are questioned.

It becomes apparent that this research project has a large scale in terms of aims and objectives and what it is trying to prove. This study can be considered to be a smaller version of the big picture, in the sense that in reality the study would be much larger scale, with many researchers on board to investigate the topic. A UK wide study is generally a large project in terms of the amount of research needed to be conducted, however given the resource limitations of this study, the results found will merely provide an insight into differences and trends, for researchers to base further studies upon. Regardless, this study is considered to be of upmost importance in adding valuable consumer behavioural research to the field, a field in which studies are in general very sparse.

2. Literature Review

A non-profit organisation is typically defined as one which has a “non-distribution constraint” (Hansmann, 1987, p. 28) , allowing firms to make surplus profits, however not to distribute financial resources to controllers of the organisation in the form of dividends and such, but to retain profits for other allocations. This idea is vital to the understanding of economic, financial and consumer dynamics of the sector. As Powell and Steinberg (2006) elucidate, the theories and models surrounding the economics of the non-profit sector create a great deal of confusion, since the basic ideas of profit maximisation do not apply, and it is assumed that any deviation from this ideal is considered market failure. It is difficult to believe that consumers, with their normally selfish economic motives, can have in reality such altruistic motives. However it is the case that these motives can be linked to fulfilling a consumer emotive need.

Whilst the non-distribution constraint serves as a definition, it is not necessarily true to reality, since in the non-profit sector operational costs amount and the issue of rising administrative and fundraising costs becomes apparent in today's media. Administrative costs, whilst unavoidable, are certainly thought to be excessive in the industry, perhaps causing mistrust amongst consumers. It is thought that consumers expect the administration to charitable expenditure to be 20:80 (Kahler & Sargeant, 2002); however research by Harvey and McCrohan (1998, cited in Kahler & Sargeant, 2002) found that consumers are satisfied with a minimum of 60% of revenues reaching the final end cause, begging the question that if this is indeed the case, is consumer confidence in charity financing such an issue?   Either way, it is certainly the case that consumers are kept in the dark on the optimum level of relevant cost and efficiency margins. Escalating matters further, the body for regulating the UK charity sector, the Charity Commission, as “the sanctions for inefficient behaviour are not automatic” (Levaggi, 1995, p. 285).  Administrative costs compared to total expenditure appear to have a negative correlation to the size of the charity, meaning that the administrative costs are higher as a percentage when expenditures are less as can be seen in the figure below. This is perhaps not the common belief of consumers, with smaller charities being seen as less wasteful by consumers, proven by a survey initiated by Third Sector (Wiggins, 2010). Regardless of attempting to isolate consumers' actual beliefs, attitudes and assumptions, research by NFP Synergy has confirmed that most individuals within the UK public do not have confidence in charitable organisations, with confidence dropping by 9% to only 41% (Hummerston, 2008).

The involvement of ‘for profit' companies with ‘non-profit' organisations is normally in the form of cause related marketing, which according to Varadarajan and Menon is “the process of formulating and implementing marketing activities that are characterised by an offer from the firm to contribute a specific amount to a designated cause when customers engage in revenue providing exchanges that satisfy organisational and individual objectives” (Varadarajan & Menon, 1988, p. 60). This form of voluntary contribution is more likely to occur with the larger charities as opposed to the smaller ones; furthermore it must be considered that the willingness to contribute and the motivations backing the decision is very much different to that of a general consumer, since although consumers are led to believe that companies engage in Corporate Social Responsibility for good causes, of course the bottom line concern is profit maximisation.

According to Hansmann (1980), the non-profit sector can be separated into two different forms of organisations according to their dynamics; donative and commercial non-profits, and it is the non-distribution constraint which creates confidence that the money is being resourcefully and properly allocated. However since the service is not visually seen to be conducted by the consumer who donates, there could be issues with contract failure, or at least perceived contract failure; this is thought to be less of an issue with larger organisations as the sheer governance structure secures confidence (Wiliamson, 1979). Yet in any case there exists a corporation charter and legal framework to provide assurance. Although it must be questioned that due to the non-distribution constraint in larger companies whilst profits are not dispersed among management, there would be a much broader structure of employees, and hence remuneration and bureaucratic structure. Additionally, this ambiguity of the constitute of financing appears to be a common cause for concern amongst consumers, with research showing that 51% of the UK public would give more if they knew where the money is spent (Wiggins, 2009).

Existing research into the consumer behaviour of charity linked products tends to be research based on the field of cause related marketing, rather than the individual end consumer's behavioural characteristics into products that are not linked with ‘for profit' companies, such as donations and organisation branded purchases. Present research solely into non-profit organisations tends to be based on commercial non-profits such as nursing, hospital care and education institutions, where results and service can clearly be seen and evidently proved. Thus far, in the case of non-profits as a whole, research into the effects of product type and donation magnitude on willingness to contribute by Strahilevitz (1999) found that the effect of product type, hedonistic or utilitarian, is affected mainly by large donations rather than small donations; Illustrating the idea that consumers are more willing to by a hedonistic product if it is linked to a large donation rather than a smaller one. Furthermore research by Bearden and Etzel (1982) shows that charity linked purchases can be considered to meet the need to belong to an ‘aspiration group'. Notable also is the peer pressure relating to the group to remain a member by exerting the appropriate philanthropic behaviours. There also appears to be a difference in contributions by age group as found by Kotler and Andreasen (1996), Foster and Meinhard (1997) add to this with results showing a difference in the preferred medium of contribution methods by age group. In addition, charitable donations could be seen as a result of guilt for a lack of ethical actions in one's life (Burnett and Lunsford, 1994, cited in Bonsu, Main, & Wilner, 2008). Information of where the money is going is a important decisive factor in repurchasing according to recent research by Proenca and Pereira (2008), showing that perhaps the commercial advertising sector of non-profit organisations is of high importance for maintaining an effective communications mix, as a channel of information for the consumer, increasing transparency of resource allocation and achievements.

Understanding and guidance can be found from basic ideologies of consumer behaviour as a starting point. However one must remember that the purchase is for someone else's benefit rather than the consumer of the product. Buying decisions can be considered to relate to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, since the consumer decision psychologically involves a need recognition, which would be related to one of the tiers of the hierarchy, namely physiological, safety, belongingness, self esteem, and self actualisation. In Maslow's model we can relate charitable contributions as self actualisation, “the desire to become all that one is capable of”, although according to the theory the need is the highest of the hierarchy and can only be achieved once all others have been fulfilled. (Koontz & Weihrich, 2008, p. 291). Scramm's model of communication (1955, cited in Smith, 2002) shows how consumer behaviour can be related to the marketing communications, since attitudes and perceptions are based on the message received by the consumer from the brand. Therefore we can question the extent of communication messages occurring in smaller non-profit firms, since it is evident that larger organisations participate in much more marketing activities. Moreover, general motives of consumer behaviour are thought to be linked to the personality of the consumer and how it directs actions. “Self-monitoring relates to self-presentation and reflects the degree to which one adjusts one's behaviour according to social cues” (Snyder, 1974, cited in Grace & Griffin, 2006, p. 4). Consumers rating high in the self monitoring scale tend to be more aware and respondent to what others do within a social circle; as such they are more likely to donate if it is the social norm, creating circles of influence.

Consumer behaviour is a field of study that has only been in existence since the 1960's, and as such there are many elements that have not yet been theorised. Most models are in reference to the process of decision making, rather than the behavioural characteristics that resolve the decision process to buy a certain product. However, we must consider the extent that one could ever understand the mind of the buyer; research trends would of course only show a generalisation of the sample, and of course the mindset will change by product, making studying behavioural characteristics increasingly difficult. Well acclaimed theorist Nicosia (1966, cited in Baker et al, 1988), was among the first to present a model in this field, flowcharting the process of decision making, with the steps from a consumer being exposed to a communication message, to purchasing and having a recognised post purchase experience. Andreasen's Model (1965, cited in Argyris, 1988) added to this, introducing the realms of attitude factors to the process, revolving around attitude formation and change occurring to changing external stimulus. A common issue of theorists and psychology in general is the issue that one will never know what is inside the consumers ‘black box', their psychological mindset in decision making, one can only allude to it. The Engel, Kollat and Blackwell (1968, cited in Baker et al, 1988) model refers to the ‘black box' as a central control unit, which consists of motives and response traits,  including many factors such as perceptions, values, and past experience behavioural characteristics. Present teachings of consumer behaviour tend to refer to a uniform model depicting and grouping the elements that influence behaviour; these are namely cultural, social, personal and psychological factors (Kotler, Wong, Saunders, & Armstrong, 2005).

Baker (Baker et al, 1988) has produced the most thorough model of buyer behaviour, a composition of all of the above theorists, in which the decision making characteristics can be clearly defined. The equation is as follows:


In which a purchase (P) can be defined as a function of selective perception (SP) and the behavioural response (BR) of enabling conditions (EB), information search (IS), precipitating circumstances (PC) and cost-benefit analysis (CB) factors combined. So whilst it is relatively unknown what is involved in the consumer decision making process, there are a number of key areas that can be alluded to for investigation, that appear in most models.

In reference to charitable giving behaviours, treating the non-profit sector as anything other than one general research topic is uncommon, with researchers rarely distinguishing any sub categorisation of organisations, however some current findings are valid for the basis of understanding the differentials in motives and behaviours. It is known and studied that charities may take on a certain pseudo-human personality and hence certain personality traits can aid marketing efforts (Sargeant, Hudson, & West, Conceptualizing brand values in the charity sector:the relationship between sector, cause and organization, 2008), based on the generalised theories of corporate personalities by McEnally & de Chernatony (1999) and Palmer (1996); It was found that the traits held trends based upon the cause, sector and corporate cultural distinctions of the charity, which of course may differ by the various charity focuses and size. Sargeant (1999) , based on all existing knowledge in the field, created a model of donating behaviour, shown below, in which an idea to factors influencing the decision process are elucidated. The issues that have particular relevance to examining the difference by charity size are namely the extrinsic determinants and perceptual reaction factors. However it must be noted that whilst the intrinsic determinants could apply to any charitable cause, the inputs in the form of marketing and communications can greatly affect the feelings of the consumer. Yet it must be noted that this model has yet to be tested, and is merely a portrayal of previous literature in the field.

So whilst information and research is readily available and vast on the non-profit sector as a whole, research tends to be focused on either the cooperation of non-profit and for-profit firms using cause related marketing. That which differs from that area s mainly rooted in the service industry in the form of commercial non-profits and most other existing research on the consumer behaviour of non-profit companies is very shallow, not delving into the motivations and issues of consumer behaviour. There is as of yet, no existing published research that compares the size of the non-profit organisation with the behavioural constraints and patterns, in particular with regards to solely donative non-profits.

3. Industry Analysis

3.1. Revenue Analysis: The Importance of Individual Contributions in the Non-Profit Industry

The structural makeup of the non-profit industry is much like any other, whilst we regularly hear about and are bombarded with advertising communications from the corporate giants in the trade, the reality is that in terms of numbers, these large firms are a tiny percentage of the industry, yet account for the majority of the total revenues, which can be seen in the charts below.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation, the total amount donated by individuals in the year between 2009 and 2010 was £10.6 billion excluding income in the form of legacies, which constitutes around one fifth of revenues in the sector, which was £52 billion in the same year (Charities Aid Foundation, 2010; Philanthrophy UK, 2010). There forth, the importance of individual giving is high.  Looking towards giving patterns in the United Kingdom, we can see the importance of certain donor groups with the statistics that 54% of the population donated in a typical month in the years 2008 and 2009, with the median amount given being £10; However the importance of the larger donations can be seen with 7% contributing more than £100 per month, which equates to just less than 50% of charitable donations from the public (Booth, 2010). Interestingly, looking at the amount of money donated as a percentage of total income, “the top fifth of households give less than 1% of their income, while the poorest give 3%” (National Council for Voluntary Organisations, 2010). Regardless, the United Kingdom in relation to the rest of the world is one of the most generous countries, ranking 8th in the World Giving Index of 2010, which is measured upon the proportion of the public who had given to charity, helped a stranger and given time to those in need (Charities Aid Foundation, 2010).

Interesting to discover in terms of the relevance of the research conducted within this report, is the importance of individual giving from the general public to the various size and focus groups of charities. Whilst the statistics show that overall it is of great importance, it may be that other areas of financing are of more importance for different sized charities; it would be thought that corporate donations and corporate social responsibility partnerships would be more important to the large international focused organisation than the small localised one.

Charity Organisation





Individual (including Legacies)


Government and Corporate


Other Income


Total Revenues



























Plan International UK


































The Childrens Society








The Prince's Trust


































Keech Cottage
























Attlee Foundation








Romsey Mill Trust
















The above table shows research into the financial revenues of charitable organisations, attempting to decipher if there are differences in where the finance comes from between the three different types of charities, those with an international, national or local focus. This research study is not concerned with the numerical size of the organisation, but size in terms of the geographical spread of the benefits. In order to ensure validity of results, all of the charities included are of the same concern; all work in the child poverty sector and are focused on the enhancement of children's lives. Since it may be the case that financing trends vary according to the type of charity, for example a medically focused charity would received a great deal more revenues from governmental organisations than most. Noticeable in researching this topic was that most charitable organisations do not release enough information to the public in the annual reports about where the revenue comes from, with only a handful of organisations providing enough information to be included in this study. This is even more apparent in the case of finding data for local charities.

The results are fairly inconclusive in finding a strong trend in the revenue breakdown yet we can make some conclusions based on the findings. What can be seen is that the international organisations tend to receive a larger percentage in individual general public donations than the other forms of organisations. Regarding corporate and governmental contributions, what is evident is that international and even national organisations, which tend to be larger and better known, receive a great deal more in corporate donations. Whilst local charities receive a great deal of income from other sources, a particular observation is that they are mostly funded through other charitable organisations and non-governmental grants such as the national lottery funding. It could very well be that the local and even the smaller national charities do not have a strong enough presence in the world of media through advertising to gain sufficient individual contributions from the public. The averages can be seen depicted in the charts below.

3.2. An Outside Glance of Consumer Trust and Confidence

The purchase decision to donate to charity, much like any ‘for profit' industry, involves a great deal of trust and confidence elements on the consumers' part to work through the stages of decision making to finally decide to make a purchase. We can even go as far to say that the element of trust in donating is even more prominent than in other industries, since when consumers make a purchase decision, they are not receiving a ‘physical' product that they can feel post purchase satisfaction with, they are simply expected to believe the benefits of their purchase and that their money is being used well. It is often the case with most charities that a donation does not merit the information as to what activity or campaign it is being used for, limiting the knowledge even further, and thus possibly affecting trust.

A consumer study survey conducted by Read Data Asset Management Group in 2010 showed that 42% of consumers would trust charities with their personal data “which is in stark contrast to government who were least trusted by 36%” (Read Data Asset Management Group Plc, 2010, pg 3). This is an interesting find in terms of confidence since the security of personal data is such a hot topic these days, with the public being incredibly cautious. The same study also examined reasons consumers would stop supporting a charity, finding that the highest rated responses were wasting money on marketing efforts, over contacting consumers and overly emotional marketing communications. These results are quite contradictory to reality since these tend to be the actions taken by the well known large charities, which are also the charities that are most popular amongst donors. We can also consider consumer trust and confidence levels not to be standardised across the industry; it may be that distrust stems from certain charity types or causes. There are a great number of ‘pop up' charities, created for crisis appeals, which are not well known or established as an entity and as such may not be as trusted. There is also the concern that such charities are started purely to merit the trustees a high wage.

Consumer confidence can be greatly positively influenced by the presence of governmental regulatory bodies, rules and standards within industries. The past decade has seen a dramatic incline in the efforts to regulate and increase transparency, since the likes of the Enron scandal and other highly publicised fraudulent business operations, resulting in the development of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 to secure the business environment for consumers, and many UK equivalent legal regulations to the same context. Charities, akin to all organisations are required by law to abide to certain legal provisions. The United Kingdom adopted the EU Transparency Directive in 2007, which serves to promote appropriate disclosure of information, with the main areas of focus being “periodic financial reporting and disclosure of major shareholdings” (Ashurst, 2007). Supplementary to the above mentioned regulations, charities are subject to the legal provisions put into place for all businesses, set by the Financial Reporting Council (FRP). 

Additional to standardised systems in place for accounting security and transparency, there are some regulatory bodies specific to the non-profit industry; transparency is also aided through the work of the UK Charity Commission, an independent regulator of charities, with legal power to investigate charities when deemed necessary. They work to provide help and advice for both charities and consumers.  The Charity Commission works on the consumer's behalf to provide information, with all registered charities having to submit annual reports online for the public to see. However a drawback is that it is only charities with an annual income of over £25,000 that are legally required to submit reports according to the Charities Act of 1993 (Charity Commission, 2011); we can assume that those charities under this revenue level are smaller charities, most likely tending to be in the local focus. Charities not providing their accounts could cause the public to question the finances of such organisations. In addition to the Charity Commission, the charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) provides specific information, best practices and financial advice tailored to the charity industry specifically; it even contains financial statement templates for aiding accounting. However the SORP has not been reviewed since 2005 and common consensus is that a revision is due. Furthermore the Trustee's Act of 2000 lays the legal boundaries of charity governance, attempting to reduce the mismanagement by charity officials through legalities.

When we look to cases of good reason to distrust due to mismanagement or financing issues,  the Charity Commission themselves state that the “amount of deliberate fraud or dishonesty within charities is low” (Charity Commission, 2011). This statement in itself can be seen as both optimistic and pessimistic, since whilst these occurrences are low, it is only the ‘deliberate' cases that are alluded to, hence suggesting that there could be cases of ‘accidental' problems, causing one to seriously question the management capabilities within charities.

In conclusion we can see that there are many issues affecting trust and confidence levels in donating. In general we can say that in today's society is one associated with the power of consumerism, with consumers demanding more information and transparency. In particular this is the case in the current economic downturn as money is scarcer; hence decisions to spend disposable income are much more thorough. However, whilst consumers demand more information, we must at the same time question the extent to which they search for the information and whether they actually process it into the decision to donate, seeking informed decisions.

4. Research Methodology

4.1. Research Design

Due to the nature of focus of the research study, descriptive research is an appropriate course of action to conduct, since it is the case that with the lack of research existing in the field, a general focused statistical study is of more importance than an in-depth focused study. It will provide a deeper understanding and a basis for comparison. Therefore what is proposed is a general consumer study, with the purpose of providing a basis for further research into the issues of consumer behaviour in charities. The research conducted does not aim to solve in entirety the differences in consumer behaviour between different sized organisations, but to establish if there are, what they might be.

Since there is little already known on the area of research, a quantitative study will be used, in which a basic, yet overall consumer profile of the UK charitable market will be created to allow for the analysis of comparisons between both consumer groups and also the different organisation structures. This will be done in the form of a survey, which will be administered online, through a third party internet survey provider that issues a web-domain for the survey to be participated in, but also collects the data to be exported into analysing software. Computer Assisted Self Interviews (CASI) is becoming increasingly popular in the realm of market research in the business world, as they create an easily accessible source of participation. Whilst it is the norm for most market research providers to find sample participants, and complete survey quotas for corporate customers, this will not be the method in the data collection for this research, as it is very costly, exceeding the financial limitations of this study. Therefore the sample group will be personally directed to the survey web-domain for participation; this will be achieved using advertising methods on social network sites such as Facebook.

Consumer behaviour as a field is thought to be based upon beliefs, attitudes, intentions and behaviours, which are “spontaneously activated and influence each other” (Feldman & Lynch, 1988). All of these social factors forming the basis of consumer behaviours are also subject to transform over time due to changes in social dimensions and external stimuli such as environmental influences. For this reason, a cross sectional study's validity is likely to be questioned over time. However, given the dynamics of the non-profit sector, it is unlikely that if a longitudinal study was conducted, much change if any would be noted in a short lapse of time. Therefore the design of study in this case will be cross-sectional, since if it were to be longitudinal, an estimated time period of 5-10 years between studies would be appropriate to identify any significant behavioural changes.

Regarding the conduct of ethical research, the survey form allows for proper conduct, since informed consent is assumed if a participant takes part; this is made easier by stating the purposes of the data collected, and the extent of data privacy. Furthermore, whilst ethical practices and data privacy are a growing concern in the nation today, the survey is carried out on an anonymous basis and hence participation should not be affected by such issues.

4.2. Survey Design: Parameters of Behaviours and Measurement Scales

Given the examination of existing consumer behaviour models (Andreasen, 1965; Nicosia, 1966; Engel, Kollat & Blackwell, 1968; Baker, 1988, Kotler, 2005) and consideration of Sargeant's (1999) model of giving behaviour, there are a number of key areas that could affect consumer behaviour in donating. Since this research study aims to examine consumer behaviours between organisation types, it seems logical to first distinguish a model to test; this makes examining differences between the charity types easier. Based upon existing research and studies into consumer behaviour, one can conjecture that there are five main areas of influence in donating behaviour. These are organisational inputs, psychological attachment, consumer confidence, experience and extrinsic determinants.

Organisational inputs include all communication efforts by the charity to market themselves such as advertising and branding, but also consumer perceptions created by this. Psychological attachment is a somewhat broad factor of influence, including factors such as those intrinsic factors in Sargeants model (1999), but also including a sense of involvement with the organisation, and feeling of community factors also. Consumer confidence refers to the common constraint for organisations of perceptions of mistrust due to financing or operational decisions. Experience is the key to repeat behaviours, and is focused around good past purchase experiences and the existence of post purchase service; also involved is the product switching issue, a bad experience with another organisation type may cause consumers to switch to another. Extrinsic determinants, as in Sargeants model (1999) are based upon demographical factors, which can only be tested against the findings of the other determinants, since they are not changeable factors; they are in relation to the other elements of behaviour but extrinsic to influencing behaviours.

The design of the survey is set up to examine and test the behavioural determinants of this model. The survey can be found in appendix C and the questions relating to the behavioural parameters as in the model above can be found in appendix D.  The survey design makes use of likert scales to test the model, making use of attitude testing to statements in order to gain information towards concepts, in this case the behavioural determinants. A five point rating scale has been used, scaling from strongly agree to strongly disagree, it is felt that any more than a 5 point scale will create confusion and ambiguity to the exact scaling. Care must be taken to avoid question bias, which has been considered in the wording of all questions in this questionnaire; swaying participants' responses, or influences their views will invalidate results, not correctly test the hypothesis and be useless as a valid research resource. Whilst it can be said that the statements in the likert scales could be seen as influencing bias, this is offset by demanding an opinion of agreement with the statements, stimulating the participant's own reflections and views. 

The organisation of the survey is designed intently in order that participants whom are not eligible for the survey, those that do not meet the requirements of the sample, are disqualified straightaway, without wasting their time. The disqualifying factors are those who are not UK residents, and those who have not donated to a charity in the past. Use of an online survey provider allows the utilisation of skip logic and automatic disqualification from the questionnaire, ensuring that all complete responses recorded are from the sample group. Following the qualification questions, several classification questions follow, easing the respondent into the flow of questions, asking simple demographic questions. Classification questions “classify respondents into various groups for purposes of analysis”, which in the case of this research study are the ‘extrinsic determinants' of age, income, religion and education data (Burns & Bush, Marketing Research, 2006, p. 313). The more involved, opinion demanding questions then follow, once the participant is emerged with both the questionnaire and the topic. Furthermore proper grammatical sense and good English is a vital element in making a survey successful and understandable. Questions must be clear, concise and focused. Therefore, every effort has been taken in the survey design and also pilot testing phases, to ensure that the questions have direction and focus, in which instruction is clear and the survey is overall comprehensible.

4.3. Sampling Design

The sample frame for the research will be all consumers based in the UK who donate to charity, which essentially is a large target group, with 73% of the population having given to a charity last year according to the Charities Aid Foundation (2010). However, the sample size does not have to be too large to be representative of the sample group, since any sample over 1000 respondents does not decrease sampling error and accuracy by great amounts to be significant according to Burns and Bush (2006). The sample size for the survey will be determined by the standard sample size formula, namely:


Where n is the sample size determined by the standard error and level of confidence (z), the estimated percent in the population (p), the remainder of the population (q) and the acceptable sample error in the research (e). Since variability of answers in the survey could be high, we could assume p and q to be 50% each, assuming maximum variance in responses. The standard error adopted by researchers is typically at 1.96, which relates to a 95% confidence level. The sample error for the research conducted will be set at 7% in order to ensure valid and reliable results that are true to the population, but to provide a sample number that is realistic and achievable given the time and financial limitations. Therefore the sample size is as follows:

n=1.962(50×50)72 , n=196

The sample size is large enough to combat the issues of systematic variance, in which “the variation in measures due to some known or unknown influences that cause the scores to lean in one direction more than another” (Kerlinger, 1986, as cited in Cooper & Schindler, 2008, p. 377). However it must be noted that systematic variance will be present even in a large sample if there is bias in the sources of the drawn sample participants, therefore when participants are being sourced through social network sites care must be taken to gain a representative sample of the UK population. In other words, it is obvious that one cannot simply invite all of their friends to participate since it could lead to shared demographical but perhaps also behavioural characteristics. This is why it is important to ensure that the survey invitations spread to a large variety of peoples. What is evident is that due to financial and time limitations, the sampling method is very much akin to the method of ‘convenience sampling', which although is not normally as precise as systematic sampling, it provides a general overview and is ideal for exploring ideas and trends. Yet, whilst the norm is that this method involves no rules or methods to ensure validity and precision, this research study will attempt to conduct invitations to ensure as equal a spread of participants as possible, to create results that are not just true to one age group or other characteristic. So whilst the validity of the results could be questioned, they will certainly succeed in providing a general overview of consumer preferences, views and behaviours.

4.4. Pilot Testing

Conducting a pilot test of a survey before publishing it for participation is a vital step in questionnaire design and review. Any errors, missing categories or information, or simply just further neccessary clarification on some questions can greatly improve the validity of results, as it creates a more thorough but also simpler investigation. The design of the pilot testing phase is a focus group session format, in which the questions will be discussed individually with five participants in order to decipher any issues that need to be corrected. It is assumed that after this phase, the questionnaire will be ready to be made available to the sample for completion. 

4.5. Data Collection and Analysis

The collection of the primary data, the responses from participants, will be collected through the online survey provider, however the data will need to be prepared for analysis once exported from the software. The data will need to be appropriately coded, to create ease of analysis, using numbers and other coding methods to create uniformity of results, but also to ensure compatability with the statistical analysis program SPSS; there is a strong need for a codebook to be created for ease of data entry and also analysis. Additionally, the entire data sheet will have to be checked to ensure that there are no errors in the data, or ommissions, since missing data creates later on in the analysis process if not actively forseen. Yet we can simply take for granted that automatic data collection through the online software omits the chances of nonsampling errors, particularly in comparison with human data input with a large sample size. Although open ended questions might be insightful in gaining diverse views, they will not be used in this research study, to create ease and uniformity in data coding and preparation for analysis; since it is the case that open ended questions are difficult to analyse in a large sample due to the extreme variability in responses.

Whilst there are many data analysis sofware programmes that are highly valued for quantitative research analysis, SPSS will be used. Amongst other reasons, such as the availablity of software, SPSS is a widely used and esteemed software, being the program of choice for many proffessional researchers. The software goes beyond the analysing capabilities of standard programs like Microsoft Excel as it allows the use of more complex statistical analysis tools, providing a wider range of data analysis possibilities.

4.6. Relevance and Appropriateness of Research Methods

Although secondary data analysis has been used in this study to provide a basis of theoretical understanding and insight into the subject area, it becomes clear that secondary research alone is not sufficient for the purposes and aims of this research. This conclusion can be made simply due to the realisation that although the issues and hypothesis at hand are not overly complex or far-fetched, it is an area of the behavioural field of consumerism in non-profits that has not previously been examined or tested. This may be in part owing to most research in the field being conducted internally by the charities, and as such the variations in behaviours between structures whilst valued information, is not a priority for research teams, especially given the limited research budgets. Therefore the need for primary research becomes both apparent but also paramount in testing the hypothesis that there are behavioural differences in consumers between charities of different sizes.

Whilst quantitative methods allow for rapid data collection and a higher sample size, it has the disadvantage of the omission of detail that qualitative methods can provide; qualitative methods allow participants to provide views other than that originally perceived to be the case as it allows for one-on-one communication and discussion amongst interviewer and participant. However, with great variation in answers, views and standpoints, a large sample size would be needed in qualitative research methods to be able to analyse trends and relationships, to increase validity of results. This is certainly the case in a research field such as identifying the relationship of behaviour variables against the different forms of non-profit organisations, since it is a field with no existing preliminary field research to compare results against; this would make it increasingly difficult to decipher if differences in behaviours are the norm, or just apparent due to the diverse views of the participants involved. Therefore it is better to produce quantitative research to provide an overview and insight to the any behavioural relationships and differences, which can be used as a basis for further research that may very well be qualitative research with the aims of deepening insight.

Using online methods to publish and promote surveys, is a method that has grown exponentially in recent years, with the growth and interest in e-commerce and advertising, and the explosion of social networking; according to Burns and Bush (2006) it is the fastest growing research method. Online surveys are a method used most by firms, as it allows a fast turnaround when the sample size can be made readily available, and can provide a thorough analysis of the data for a cost. However, it can be said that a possible disadvantage is that it may not appeal to all age groups, whilst the older generations of society are becoming computer literate, they may not be willing to participate, or find the idea of online research methods overly appealing. This may be an issue in this research study, especially since it is the older age groups who appear to have the most disposable income and charitable nature of giving. Although any other form of survey mode would have resulted in a more time consuming method, ultimately meaning that the sample size would have to be decreased to make the study feasible and achievable, and thus reducing validity and accurateness of results.

5. Data Analysis

In analysing the data, the most important emphasis is on testing the hypothesis, whether there is a difference in consumer motives in donating to different charity types. Whilst this is the focus of the study, there is ample leeway for analysing a multitude of factors relevant to the industry, adding insight to the field, including why the UK public donates in general, how they donate and how much they donate amongst other factors.

5.1. The Distribution of Data

The first consideration of the data gained from the survey, is to analyse the distribution of the results gained by age groups; this is due to the initial concerns of the data collection methods, in that collected responses were not set to give an equal distribution per say, it was just strived for, but also to be able to view the results on a whole as valid as a reflection of the UK public and not just one specific age group. The chart below shows the frequency of responses per age group, including a normal distribution curve to be able to depict the distribution of responses thoroughly.  

What is evident is that there are a greater proportion of respondents being in the 21-30yrs age group than any others, with the mean age response of 2.51 falling into that interval. Yet other than this, the distributions of results are fairly spread across the range, which can be seen from the normal distribution curve, but with a slight skewness of 0.584, indicating a positive skew to the left side of the distribution. It is always useful to look at the z score of skewness additionally, since this measure takes into account the standard error in the dataset calculated by SPSS. For the distribution of age groups the z score is 0.584/0.174, which equals 3.36, amplifying the skew in the data. Whilst this is not ideal, there are a significant amount of respondents in each age interval, creating a valid sample to assess; a perfect dataset is very difficult to come by.

5.2. The Relationship between Age and Donating

Previous research has shown that the amount donated to charities increases with age, in particular with the older peoples giving more generously. It would be interesting therefore to test this according to the data collected, in addition the data allows for measuring the frequency of donations with age. The bar chart below shows the frequencies of the amount donated separated by age group. Evident is that the lower propensities of donations are much more concentrated to the lower age groups, which could be somewhat expected since these age groups experience a lower income, in particular the under 20yrs old interval. The bar chart in itself does not show much relationship between the amount spent and age, since there is a fair dispersion of amount spent, which is also evident from the standard deviation coefficient of 1.7. The correlation can be better seen through the cross tabulation and plotting of the averages for the data, as seen in the chart overleaf. A positive relationship is evident, which can be depicted by the uphill direction of the curve; however, in contrast to what is commonly thought, the results do not show that the older age group, over 50's, donate more in monetary terms. It may be the case that this reflection is incorrect; in any case a larger sample of this age group would be needed in order to provide fully conclusive results. Pearson's product moment correlation coefficient measurement gives a result of 0.392, indicating a positive correlation between the two variables, yet not a strong relationship. Therefore the data shows that whilst there is some positive relationship between age and amount spent, it does not necessarily equate to mean that amount donated increases with age in all cases. In terms of the frequency of donations, the results showed that there a slight negative correlation of -0.168 in relation with age. This in light of the above findings proves that whilst older age groups may spend more, they spend less frequently, signifying that they spend more per donation.

Interesting also is that the results showed that there is no relationship between the age of respondents and the methods used to donate. It could be assumed that the older age groups tend to use the direct debit methods, in particular signing up for regular payment plans; however it is the case these days that anyone could afford the typical payment plan, which ranges from a minimum of £2 to £5 a month. The frequencies of methods used can be seen in the bar chart overleaf. What is evident is that charity boxes and collections are by far the most popular method for donating, most likely due to its convenience and spontaneous spending factors, being adopted by over 140 of the total 196 respondents. This is followed by donating to fundraising events, which could be expected. Interesting though, is that most people do not donate direct to charity administration, which could be viewed as the safest method of knowing the movement of money, but contrastingly the most effort involved method.

5.3. Are Religion and Education Levels Important Factors in Donating?

The pie chart to the right shows the breakdown of the religions of the respondents. Evident is that the majority of respondents follow no religion and that a large percentage are a form of Christianity. In respect to the relationship between religion and donating, the data showed no relationship to either the amount donated or the frequency of donations. It is not the case either that those with no religion donate less, which could be a common stereotype if it was believed that religion positively affects the demand to aid charity efforts. However it must be noted that the involvement with religion was not tested, it may be the case that those who consider themselves ‘practicing' religion, reading and learning the teachings of religion may have a higher propensity to donate due to raised morals.

It does appear that education has a relationship with donating which can be seen in the chart below. There is a relatively strong positive correlation of 0.626, denoting that those with higher education levels are associated with higher amounts of donating. This could be due to a number of reasons including that those with higher education levels most likely earn more, but perhaps may be somewhat due to those that are more educated understand and feel more need to promote equality in the world, but also to achieve self actualisation as Maslow's hierarchy of needs could suggest.

5.4. Testing the Model of Donating Consumer Behaviour: Are there Differences between the Local, National and International Charity Types?

The model of donating consumer behaviour as depicted and explained in the research methodology section, tests the motives of donating based around four different spectrums; the organisational inputs, psychological attachment, consumer confidence and the post purchase experience factors. The model also included the extrinsic determinants of age, income, religion and education, which have been examined in the above sections. The data tests the overall donating model, as well as that for the local, national and international focused charity types; the hypothesis is that there will be a difference between these.

The survey question relating to donating in general was answered by 172 of the 196 respondents. The distribution of responses can be seen in the table overleaf, along with the percentage of respondents falling into each category of the likert scale, with the most common response highlighted in bold type. What can be seen is that the responses are tending to the positive side of all of the statements, with the most common answer being agreement with most reasons for donating. Interestingly the statements consumers are most undecided about are those that popularly are issues such as knowing charities, corporate salaries and seeing proof of outcomes.


Strongly Agree




   Neither Agree nor Disagree




Strongly Disagree


10.1 I feel that I know the charities well











10.2 Having advertising and marketing campaigns are an important factor in influencing my reasons for donating











10.3 All information is readily available for the charity, including activities, finances and other company information











10.4 Specific campaigns and appeals are an important factor in convincing me to donate











10.5 Donating is convenient, simple and easy











10.6 I am/feel involved with the charities











10.7 I feel a responsibility to donate











10.8 I donate out of sympathy towards others











10.9 I feel that helping my community is essentials











10.10 It helps to gain equality











10.11 I feel a sense of satisfaction when I donate











10.12 I know where my donations are going











10.13 I feel that an acceptable amount of the revenues are used to support the end cours

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