The Boston Globe today reports on a new study which found that people were less likely to contribute a second time to nonprofit groups who give a gift (like a tote bag) to reward a first-time contribution:
In a series of experiments, people donated significantly less to various charitable causes when offered a thank-you gift than when offered no gift at all. The desirability or cost of the gift made little difference. The only thing that seemed to attenuate the negative effect of the thank-you gift was when the gift itself was also promoted as a way to help the charity (e.g., by displaying its logo). These results support the theory that outside incentives can undermine the intrinsic motivations for charity.
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