Slacktivism Hurts Giving, Charities, and Aid

Potential donors don’t give money when presented with the chance to provide support in the form of social media.

A new study conducted at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that the more likely a person was to engage in a free act of social media support—joining a Facebook page, signing a petition, changing one’s avatar to a poppy—the less likely said person was to donate time or money. However, in a series of experiments, researchers showed that the main factor influencing participant generosity was the degree of publicity of their free act of support. People who received a lot of attention gave less, whereas those who showed support privately were much more likely to then give.

According to study coauthor Kirk Kristofferson, “If charities run public token campaigns under the belief that they lead to meaningful support, they may be sacrificing their precious resources in vain. If the goal is to generate real support, public facing social media campaigns may be a mistake.”


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