Unit Asking: A Method To Boost Donations And Beyond

Hsee, Christopher K; Zhang, Jiao; Lu, Zoe Y; Xu, Fei, (2013). Unit Asking: A Method To Boost Donations And Beyond. Psychological Science, 24, 9, 1801–1808.



Type of evidence:

Related tools: Unit asking

Related theories:

Related critiques:

Charity target:

Donor population:

Paper summary

Abstract: The solicitation of charitable donations costs billions of dollars annually. Here, we introduce a virtually costless method for boosting charitable donations to a group of needy persons: merely asking donors to indicate a hypothetical amount for helping one of the needy persons before asking donors to decide how much to donate for all of the needy persons. We demonstrated, in both real fund-raisers and scenario-based research, that this simple unit-asking method greatly increases donations for the group of needy persons. Different from phenomena such as the foot-in-the-door and identifiable-victim effects, the unit-asking effect arises because donors are initially scope insensitive and subsequently scope consistent. The method applies to both traditional paper-based fund-raisers and increasingly popular Web-based fund-raisers and has implications for domains other than fund-raisers, such as auctions and budget proposals. Our research suggests that a subtle manipulation based on psychological science can generate a substantial effect in real life.



Meta-analysis data

Study year:

Data link:

Peer reviewed:

Journal rating:



Replication success:



Participants aware:



Simple comparison:

Sample size:

Share treated:

Key components:

Main treatment:

Mean donation:

SD donation:

Endowment amount:

Endowment description:


Conversion rate:

Effect size original:

Effect size USD:

SE effect size:

SE calculation:

Effect size share:

Mean incidence:

Effect size incidence:

Headline p-val:

P-val description:

This paper has been added by

Enter your comment. Wiki syntax is allowed:
  • papers/unit_asking_a_method_to_boost_donations_and_beyond.txt
  • Last modified: 2018/06/11 09:11
  • by katja