According to the CDC, cancer was the second leading cause of death, after heart disease, in the United States in 2019. Monthly giving allows the American Cancer Society to save more than 500 lives a day from cancer.
How can individuals become more motivated to donate to cancer research? Do positive or negative stories about cancer treatments help get more people interested in donating to cancer research? These are questions we set out to explore in this field experiment. We were interested in understanding the impact of presenting negative or positive messages on people’s willingness to donate to cancer research. Given its potential impact on scientific advancement, this is an area of active research among organizations who seek to raise more donations.
Our results show that messaging with a negative appeal registered the highest average willingness to donate with 6.23 on a scale from 0-10. Messaging with positive appeals and the control message showed a 6.16 and 5.74 average willingness to donate, respectively. These results were not statistically significant, however the average treatment effects observed are significant from a practical point of view (i.e. 4% in our scale) when considering what a similar magnitude increase in donations could mean to charitable organizations and those suffering from disease.