Mycharity: water is a non-profit organization that brings clean and safe drinking water in developing nations.
An underlying technique used throughout the website to get people to ‘join the pledge ’is based on emotional appeal, in particular existential guilt. This is experienced when one is more fortunate than others, which results in feelings of empathy. For example: ‘They didn't choose to be born into a village where the only source of water is a polluted swamp. And we didn't choose to be born in a country where even the homeless have access to clean water and a toilet’. This quotation emphasises that it is by chance that we are privileged and they are not, and so the reader is persuaded to sympathise.
Emotional arousal can motivate behaviour especially if negative-arousal/ dissonance has been evoked, as the natural response is to avoid such feelings of discomfort. To counteract this discomfort a solution should be presented. In this case, a large button which states ‘give to clean water’ takes the user to a donation page, providing a ‘solution’ to the reader for the dissonance felt. The intention is that the reader is so preoccupied in getting rid of this discomfort that issues within the message may not be critically analysed.
Griffin, Babin, Attaway, & Darden (1993) presented participants with a charity appeal about a man who lost his vision and was unable to pay off an accumulated sum of $250,000 in medical bills due to his inability to work. The appeal asked for donations to assist his medical bills and living expenses. Participants who rated feelings of empathy stronger than distress were more likely to give donations. It appears feelings of empathy compared to feeling of distress are more effective in creating intentions to make a charitable donation.
Griffin, M., Babin, B. J., Attaway, J. S., &. Darden W. R. (1993) . Hey You, Can Ya Spare Some Change? the Case of Empathy and Personal Distress As Reactions to Charitable Appeals. Advances in Consumer Research, 20,(1), 508-514.
Lewis, M. (1993). The emergence of human emotions. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp.223-235). New York: Guildford Press.