united way iPhone giveaway - bleck
Mood: blah
Posted on 2007-11-26 14:18:00
Tags: rant
Words: 113

I just got a second email reminding me that if you donate to the United Way now, you're entered to win an 8GB iPhone. Color me unimpressed. Doesn't it seem kinda backwards to entice people to donate money with a prize? Maybe McElroy Translation (who donated the prize) should have just donated the money it cost to buy it - it's not like Apple donated it or anything.

Worse yet, this sets up the idea that you're not donating; you're buying a chance at the iPhone. Will you be so eager to donate when there's no possible reward?

(I understand this is a cranky attitude about it, and probably it's not a big deal)


Comment from tehfanboi:

I'd be curious to see the rate of return on prize driven promotions versus not. I'd imagine it is more but I won't make that claim without evidence. And in the end does it really matter whether people gave for the 'right reasons'? I mean the people who gave because they are beautiful people would have given anyway, and they may get an otherwise unexpected reward. And the people who gave with the chance at a reward still gave. To the kid helped by the United Way I don't think it really matters what motivated the dollar, just that a dollar was given. Now if it was for donations of time volunteer versus money I think that would be a big difference because volunteering with a bad attitude is not good.

Comment from gregstoll:

The article that I was too lazy to look up about doing things for the "right reasons" is here: Incentive Pay Considered Harmful, specifically

... at least two dozen studies over the last three decades have conclusively shown that people who expect to receive a reward for completing a task or for doing that task successfully simply do not perform as well as those who expect no reward at all. [HBR Sept/Oct 93]
So maybe if this was a pleasant surprise, there would be no harm done, but getting two emails about it ensures that anyone who was considering donated will at least have it on their mind. I agree that more money to the United Way == good, but not if it comes at the cost of less money later.

Comment from gregstoll:

And I was reminded by something vaguely similar that happened at the tax center a while ago.

I should really get back to work.

Comment from djedi:

Perhaps (Greg's answer notwithstanding), but it sure comes off crass. Then again, people do "fundraisers" all the time that involve raffles or prizes. I have to admit though, often in such situations, I would really just rather donate money and not get some piece of crap in return. I'm not even 30 and I have plenty of knick-knacks I've gotten from various charities, etc.

Comment from wildrice13:

I'd rather they just say they're selling raffle tickets rather than say, "donate so that you can win a prize!"

Comment from gerdemb:

This reminds of the reason that my parents never paid me to do chores. They believed that children should do chores, because it was their obligation as part of the family. If kids are paid to do chores, then it becomes just a job which they could chose not to do if they didn't want the money.

Seems like the same idea applies here (sort of). Donating to charity is something we do because we believe that it's the right thing to do. Offering prizes for donations, while perhaps increasing donations, cheapens the experience and conditions people to expect a reward (or chance at an award) for donating and in the future. In the future, the charity may find in the future they are forced to offer awards to continue receiving the same level of donations...

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