At the bottom of each Guardian article page is this message asking for a donation towards the continued running of the Guardian online being free for all to access.
The legitimisation of paltry contributions has been shown to be effective in increasing donation compliance. Including “For as little as £1” and “it only takes a minute” eliminates the excuses of ‘no money and no time’ many people provide for not donating to causes. Bolkan & Rains (2015) meta-analytic review of legitimisation of paltry contributions as a compliance-gaining technique did find that LPC messages increased compliance rates compared to control conditions. However, it was also found that LPC messages lead to smaller mean donation amounts and produced similar donation totals relative to control messages.
After clicking the link, the default amount is set to £5 per month, and you can only make a one off donation of £1 if you manually click ‘one-off’ and then type £1. This is an example of lowballing whereby ‘as little as £1’ defaults to a larger amount with monthly commitment. People may be more likely to therefore choose the higher default amount as they have seemingly already committed to donate by clicking through the link. Lowballing has been demonstrated to be effective in increasing compliance with the higher request amount due to commitment to the smaller initial request (Burger & Caputo, 2015).
Even if you don’t decide to comply with the greater request, the other options in the ‘one-off’ section are much higher (£25, £50, £100 & £250). These higher amounts act as anchoring points from which one may base their actual donation upon. This is done to make your intended £1 donation seem very small in comparison, and potentially push you to make a bigger donation, or donate a lower amount e.g. £5 on a monthly basis (Johnson, Bellman & Lohse, 2002; Goswami & Urminsky, In prep.)
This also fits with the idea of effort justification whereby you have already clicked, and intended to donate, so you ‘might as well’ proceed with donating, even if it is a higher amount than you first intended. Olivola & Shafir (2011) found that anticipated effort and pain lead people to ascribe greater meaning to their contributions to charitable or collective causes, and were thus more likely to contribute greater amounts.
Bolkan, S., & Rains, S. A. (2015). The Legitimisation of Paltry Contributions as a Compliance-Gaining Technique: A Meta-Analysis Testing Three Explanations. Communication Research, 44(7), 976-9696.
Burger, J. M., & Caputo, D. (2015). The low-ball compliance procedure: a meta-analysis. Social Influence, DOI: 10.1080/15534510.2015.1049203. Accessed 15/03/2018.
Goswami, I., Urminsky, O. (Not yet published). When should the ask be a nudge? The effect of default amounts on charitable donations. Journal of Marketing Research
Johnson, E. J., Bellman, S., & Lohsem G. L. (2002). Defaults, Framing and Privacy: Why Opting In-Opting Out. Marketing Letters, 13, 5-15. DOI: 10.1023/1015044207315
Olivola, C. Y., & Shafir, E. (2011). The Martyrdom Effect: When Pain and Effort Increase Prosocial Contributions. Journal of Behavioural Decision Making, 26, 91-105.