Academic News You Can Use:
Today's Volunteer, Tomorrow's Donor
prepared by Prof. Michal Strahilevitz

Work by Wendy Liu and Jennifer Aaker (2008) reveals that first asking individuals to think about “how much time they would like to donate” to a charity (as opposed to “how much money they would like to donate”) actually increases the amount of money that they ultimately donate to the charity.

Their findings suggest that getting potential donors to volunteer time by participating in an event may lead to their not only raising sponsorship dollars from others, but also to their donating more money themselves over time.

In a recession fueled by rising unemployment, it is intuitive that the shift will continue towards giving time rather than giving money. Liu and Aaker’s work suggests that this short-term shift towards more volunteering may be especially beneficial in the long-term, as the experience of volunteering (e.g., as athletes in "ahton" fundraising events) may lead to greater future engagement with and commitment to the causes being supported.

As the economy improves, it is quite possible that fundraising athlete of today will become the loyal donors of tomorrow.

For more details on this research see: Liu, Wendy, and Jennifer Aaker (2008), “The Happiness of Giving: The Time-Ask Effect,” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 35, No. 3: 543-557.

About the Researchers:

Jennifer Aaker is the General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. Her work is focused on time, money and happiness and the psychology of giving. She tweets on this research at For more information, see:

Wendy Liu is an assistant professor of marketing at UCLA. She does research on consumer behavior and charitable giving. For more information, see:

About the Author:

Michal Strahilevitz is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Golden Gate University. She does research on cause related marketing and donation psychology. For more information, see --
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