To Donate or Not To Donate That Is The Question by Matalin Staser

To Donate or Not To Donate That Is The Question by Matalin Staser


It is an amazing gift to be able to change the world, and this gift has been giving without a monetary price, only taking moments of time to make a difference in the lives of people all over the world. Whether it’s on a local or national level, you can change the world. Generous benefactors and volunteers are often given incentives for their donations, which is perfectly fine. Allowing incentive to be given in order to advocate for charities is an ethically acceptable form of convincing someone to donate, especially if their donation will greatly change a life.

Volunteering and advocating for charities raises awareness and persuades others to not only learn about the charity, but donate as well. Donating to charities has become remarkably easier with the distribution of smart phones throughout society. The use of smart phones and certain apps insures that charities will be donated to on a daily basis. There are many apps you can download which allow you to donate with a simple click of a button. One of these apps is called Charity Miles, which will donate to a charity of your choosing if you only walk. It’s easy! You simply walk and for every mile you walk, Charity Miles donates to your charity. There are hundreds of these apps, if you take the time to look for them.

Social media has also accompanied our smart phones and with them, fundraisers like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which encourages everyone to pour icy water over themselves for a good cause. This fundraiser is accompanied by others, such as Water Is Life and UNICEF. Water Is Life hijacked the #firstworldproblems in honor of their cause, while UNICEF drew people in with a picture labeled “Like us on Facebook, and we will vaccinate zero children against polio” which was followed by their pitch in smaller letters, “We have nothing against likes, but vaccines cost money. Please buy polio vaccine at It will only cost you 4€, but will save the lives of 12 children.”  It seems that social media is not just for “selfies” anymore and has taken a turn to become a weapon for advocating of charities.

It is a proven fact that when someone feels an emotional attachment to a cause, they will be more likely to donate than if only told about the victims. This is why we feel so compelled to donate when viewing an ASPCA commercial, for example. When given a face to put with a cause, the feeling that donations are needed grows substantially larger. An identifiable victim is easier to connect with on an emotional level than a faceless victim, says Deborah Small in an interview on Knowledge@wharton, which is the website for the University of Pennsylvania.

She continues, saying, “When donating to charitable causes, people do not value lives consistently.” as well as the idea that most people probably do mot calculate the expected benefit of their donation. Rather, choices are made intuitively, based on spontaneous affective reactions. Psychologically, people pay greater attention and have stronger emotional reactions to vivid rather than pallid information. Rationality is thrown to the side when faced with an emotional reaction. This shows that there is an unexpected urge to help others deeply rooted in the human subconscious (

If helping is not quite enough of a return for the advocating of charities, incentives are often given to encourage and increase participation in specific charities. An example of this would be monetary incentives being given in return for a donation of blood ( Often enough, giving blood and possibly saving a life should be it’s own reward but the monetary incentive is an added bonus. In the case of this specific charity, good will is enough. Money as an incentive is often an added bonus or a pat on the back, in other words. This type of incentive can also be given to coerce people into saving lives, if that’s not enough for them.

Another form of incentive could be found in raffles and fundraisers such as those seen in support of sports teams. These offers would maximize the sales and would also encourage people to help their chosen cause and get a little extra back. Giving incentives to sell the tickets also helps encourage volunteers to sell them and gives them an easier and faster way to make a difference.

Those who oppose incentives being given may say that they will increase the selfishness of the world and contribute to negative character development. This is untrue, as the incentive puts a cause and effect rule into play, teaching that when you do good you will often get a reward. This is comparable to the way a young child learns. When a baby shakes a rattle, a sound emits from it (Zero to Three). Much like that analogy, when you donate you often receive an incentive. This does not cause you to anticipate the incentive, instead it teaches you to want to give.

Giving an incentive will not only increase awareness of the charity, but will also encourage donations and participation. This has been proven in many ways throughout this essay. Incentives are not meant to cause someone to donate, but to encourage those who already do so. Therefore, in societal standards, giving an incentive is perfectly justified and ethically acceptable.

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Contributed by Matalin Staser

August 13, 2015

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