Goal proximity, social information, and giving: when norms backfire

Matthew Lupoli, Coby Morvinski, On Amir

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Two types of information commonly presented to potential donors by fundraisers are (a) the percentage of the fundraising campaign goal reached, and (b) the number of donors to that campaign. Research on goal gradient motivation and descriptive norms would predict higher donations as the goal is approached and when there are many past donors to a given campaign. However, in two studies, we demonstrate that when close to the campaign goal, individuals donate more when they learn there are few (versus many) past donors. In Study 1 (N=13,232), we observe this pattern across actual campaigns on a fundraising website. In Study 2 (N=571), we obtain causal evidence for this effect in a laboratory experiment, and show that the effect is driven by an increase in donors’ perceived impact on reaching the campaign goal. This work identifies a novel context in which norms can backfire, and has practical implications for fundraisers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2017: At the Interface - Atlanta, United States of America
Duration: 4 Aug 20178 Aug 2017
Conference number: 77


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2017
Abbreviated titleAoM 2017
CountryUnited States of America

Cite this

Lupoli, M., Morvinski, C., & Amir, O. (2017). Goal proximity, social information, and giving: when norms backfire. Abstract from Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2017, Atlanta, United States of America. https://doi.org/10.5465/AMBPP.2017.14507abstract