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Charitable Giving in India: From Direct Mail to Digital Fundraising, 5/1

Release Date:
3/26/2013 9:00 AM

Subroto Roy, features Subroto Roy


If you are involved in fund raising for non-profits this presentation will give you some useful insights about advertising via direct mail as well as digital fundraising.  Also the presentation should be useful to marketers generally interested in moving from traditional to digital channels.


This research tests the persuasive effects of advertising content on charitable giving using large scale direct mail field experiments. The advertising content treatments are developed using the psychology literature on sympathy generation and framing effects.

In the first experiment, we vary advertising content in mailings to about 185,000 prospective new donors on behalf of an Indian charity organization and find statistically significant and economically large impact donations consistent with the “identifiable victim,” “in-group” and “reference dependence” sympathy bias effects. Further, in contrast to recent support for the superiority of a “pennies a day” temporal reframing, we find that a “monthly” temporal reframe induces more giving in this setting. In a second experiment, targeted to around 110,000 past donors, we find smaller, but still statistically and economically significant effects of sympathy bias. We conclude that while sympathy biases and framing effects have larger relative impact on new donors, their impact on generating donations is significant among both new and existing donors.


Compared to direct mail, digital fundraising is less expensive and more environmentally friendly.

In these ongoing experiments we use Internet Banners hosted at different websites like newspaper websites and the Google Display Network with different content based on our learning in the direct mail experiments. We investigate how far do the core principles of sympathy work on the Internet?

We also investigate and compare response rates when the appeal is for (1) Donation vs. (2) Friend on Facebook Page vs. (3) Follower on LinkedIn page.


Dr. Subroto Roy is a Professor of Marketing at the College of Business, University of New Haven where he has been a faculty member since 2001. Subroto specializes in Innovation, Digital Marketing and Supply Chain and his research is widely cited and has been recognized with “Best Paper” awards at the American Marketing Association. His blog  won the “Most Valuable Connecticut Blogger Award” from CBS Connecticut in 2011. Dr. Roy ‘s students at UNH have assisted over 45 small businesses and non-profits with free Google AdWords campaigns as part of their marketing studies.

During his sabbatical leave from University of New Haven, Dr Roy was invited to be a Visiting Scholar at the Yale School of Management where this research (with K Sudhir of Yale University and Mathew Cherian of Helpage India) commenced.

The Digital Fundraising part of the research is ongoing and more details about the nonprofit can be seen at


May 1, from 3pm – 4pm


Marvin K. Peterson Library, Upper level, University of New Haven

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Contact Hanko Dobi, university librarian, at

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