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Published on August 4, 2007

Author: Malbern


Charity Brand Personality: The Relationship with Giving Behavior:  Charity Brand Personality: The Relationship with Giving Behavior John B. Ford, Professor of Marketing and International Business Charitable Giving page 1:  Charitable Giving page 1 Charitable giving reached $248.52 Billion in the US in 2004. Individual donors provided 75.6% of the total amount of gifts representing an average of 1.9% of personal pre-tax income. In the UK the total amount donated in financial year 2004/5 was $14.1 Billion. This giving represents an average of $300 per adult head of the population (Pharoah et al. 2005). Charitable Giving page 2:  Charitable Giving page 2 How and why individuals elect to offer their help to others is a topic that has puzzled philosophers and economists since the 'dawn of antiquity' (Wispe 1978). Comparatively recently marketing’s contribution to 'giving' has been recognized and a succession of authors have demonstrated its utility (Bendapudi et al. 1996; Kotler and Andreason 1987; Lovelock and Weinberg 1984; Varadarajan and Menon 1988). Charitable Giving page 3:  Charitable Giving page 3 Studies concerned with monetary donations have tended to regard the decision to donate (or not) as the primary output from any model of giving behavior (Sargeant 1999). While some studies have addressed the factors driving the value of gifts, much of the existing literature has focused on distinguishing donors from non-donors (Schlegelmilch et al. 1992). Fundraisers have become increasingly interested in 1) the level of the gift, 2) the likely lifetime value of the donor, and 3) the extent to which the donor may be persuaded to support the organization for extended periods of time. Charitable Giving page 4:  Charitable Giving page 4 A review of the literature reveals that research is needed which examines the role that the characteristics of a recipient organization might play in stimulating donations (Venables et al. 2005). The role of branding, in particular, has received little empirical attention. Venables et al. (2005) is the only study to date which examines nonprofit brand personality by validating Jennifer Aaker’s 1997 for-profit brand structure in a nonprofit setting, but the authors did not look at the potential impact of a nonprofit brand personality on giving. Charitable Giving page 5:  Charitable Giving page 5 To adequately study this, attitude theory suggests that there is a need to examine the facets of brand personality that may form a reasonable basis for differentiation from those which are charitable in nature and thus shared across the sector by all nonprofits (Eagly and Chaiken 1993). It is the goal of this study to delineate a set of personality traits associated with nonprofit brands to see which are genuinely distinctive as opposed to those which are shared with others in the sector and to examine the connection with giving behavior. Brand Personality page 1:  Brand Personality page 1 Aaker (1997) defines brand personality as 'the set of human characteristics associated with a brand' (p. 347). Brand personality is a series of traits or values (i.e., the stable tendencies of individuals). While product-related attributes serve a utilitarian function for consumers, brand personality serves a predominantly symbolic or self-expressive function (Keller 1993). Charity donors are drawn to brands that are perceived as having personalities encompassing values congruent to their own, actual or aspired (de Chernatony et al. 2004). Brand Personality page 2:  Brand Personality page 2 The degree of congruence between an individual’s self-image and the personality of a particular product has an impact on consumer behavior (Grubb and Hupp 1968; Sirgy 1982). This concept of identification has been shown to increase loyalty to an organization (Adler and Adler 1987), brand loyalty/positive word of mouth (Peter and Olson 1993), and subsequent behavior (Bhattarchaya et. al. 1995). This would suggest that the development and communication of an appropriate brand personality would be particularly useful in stimulating donor support for nonprofits. Brand Personality page 3:  Brand Personality page 3 Aaker (1997) built upon the work of Goldberg (1990) who suggested that there were five big trait factors in human personality (extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness). Jennifer Aaker (1997) tried to clarify the underlying structure of brand personality and found five similar dimensions (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness), but it is unclear as to whether this framework can legitimately be generalized to all brand contexts (Austin et al. 2003). Brand Personality page 4:  Brand Personality page 4 Saxton (2002) identified that the public associated such traits as 'accountable' and 'traditional' with the personality of leading UK charities, and these traits do not fall neatly into the suggested framework presented by Aaker (1997). Of greatest concern here is that Aaker’s original focus lay in identifying those traits likely to distinguish among various brands. It is reasonable to assume here that this research should determine not only those traits that are capable of differentiating among charities, but also determine whether any traits might be shared by all organizations within the sector as a whole. Brand Personality page 5:  Brand Personality page 5 It would not make sense for a charitable organization to stress traits that were shared by all charities within the sector in their marketing efforts as no specific organization would stand out as separate and distinct. Methodology page 1:  Methodology page 1 A two-stage methodology was utilized in partnership with nine large charities in the UK. Three charity partners were selected from three distinct categories of charitable causes: visual impairment (V.I.), children and animal welfare. These causes were deliberately selected from the Charities Aid Foundation (2002) typology to optimize the diversity in perceived traits. Each charity was a large national charity with high brand awareness drawn from the Top 200 as ranked by voluntary income. Methodology page 2:  Methodology page 2 In the first stage a series of nine exploratory focus groups were conducted to identify the values associated with the nine organizations in the study and to formulate hypotheses as to how these might be structured. The focus groups were made up of donors to all nine organizations living in the geographical area where the focus groups were being run. Ninety participants were involved, stratified to reflect a mix of gender and age, and each was paid £50 for attendance at each meeting scheduled to last for 90 minutes. Methodology page 3:  Methodology page 3 The group discussion was kept semi-structured. Following an initial discussion of the organizations participants chose to support, each group was asked to consider the factors that had driven that choice, and what was distinctive about each focal charity. The participants were then asked to specifically consider the personality of the brand of their chosen charity with the wording, 'suppose the brand were a person, what kind of person would he or she be? With what personality? A similar exercise was undertaken for the other two charities in the category of cause to identify potential differences in perception, followed by a more general discussion of other charities in other categories of charitable cause. Methodology page 4:  Methodology page 4 The focus groups were audio-taped and transcribed. The transcripts were reviewed individually and summarized. In a phase Strauss (1990) called 'open coding,' the interview transcripts were scrutinized line-by-line and paragraph-by-paragraph to suggest initial categories or themes. In the step Strauss calls 'axial' coding, the transcripts were examined again and again to consider each of the themes across the interviews and to assess the fit of each theme to the data. Finally, in the 'selective' coding stage, the data were carefully examined again to refine the themes and findings for each. Personality of Charities in General page 1:  Personality of Charities in General page 1 It was clear from the discussions with the participants that they were employing the notion of 'charity' to attribute an organization with s distinctive set of characteristics. Certain traits were attributed to the charity by nature of the fact that it was a charity. For example, 'it’s a charity, so it must be caring, mustn’t it?' The analysis suggested that two categories of trait were considered as being charitable in nature: Benevolence Progression Personality of Charities in General page 2:  Personality of Charities in General page 2 Benevolence would include the following attributes: caring, compassionate, fair, ethical, honest, trustworthy, and helpful. Progression would include the following attributes: transforming, pioneering, responsive, and engaging. H1: Traits associated with 'benevolence' will be shared by all charities within the sector. H2: Traits associated with 'progression' will be shared by all charities within the sector. Personality for a Specific Cause page 1:  Personality for a Specific Cause page 1 Many practitioners have argued that distinct brand values should evolve around certain types of causes (e.g., animal welfare, prevention of child abuse, cancer research). Here we found that those organizations that provided benefits for human beings were distinctive. They were imbued with additional characteristics that defined how participants felt a charity should deal with or should communicate with a human beneficiary group. The focus was on the service provided. Personality for a Specific Cause page 2:  Personality for a Specific Cause page 2 'I guess I would view them as open and approachable. They have to be really to do what they do. I mean…I’ve no experience, but you just have that feeling.' (Visual Impairment donor) No other shared categories of traits could be identified across the sampled organizations. H3: Traits associated with 'service' will be shared by organizations aimed at providing assistance to human beneficiaries Personality of an Individual Organization page 1:  Personality of an Individual Organization page 1 Two categories of trait appeared to distinguish among individual charitable organizations, 'emotional stimulation' and 'performance.' Emotional stimulation appeared in such traits as strong, bold, exciting, fun, heroic and inspiring. Eagley and Chaiken (1993) argued that attitudinal theory would suggest that the level of arousal that brands were able to generate should be linked to giving behavior. Personality of an Individual Organization page 2:  Personality of an Individual Organization page 2 The level of emotional stimulations appeared in our focus groups to make the contact with the charity more memorable by prompting higher levels of support. There are clear parallels to the work of Jennifer Aaker (1997) who found that 'excitement' was a differentiating factor capable of encouraging the purchase of a particular commercial brand. 'The materials they send me are genuinely fun, so they really stand out from the crowd. If I’m honest, it becomes a higher priority for me to respond. You just really want to.' (Animal Charity donor) Personality of an Individual Organization page 3:  Personality of an Individual Organization page 3 In terms of performance, a cluster of traits seemed capable of distinguishing among a number of the charity brands involved. These traits included: prudent, efficient, effective, wasteful, and bureaucratic. These traits appeared to drive both the inclusion of an organization in an individual’s choice set (or not) and the subsequent amounts that would be donated. Higher performing charities attracted a higher proportion of an individual’s 'charitable pot of funds.' Personality of an Individual Organization page 4:  Personality of an Individual Organization page 4 'I definitely give more to (specific charity). They spend nearly all of the money donated on the cause, not on salaries and management. I know when I give to them they’re not wasting my money.' (Children’s Charity donor) H4: Traits associated with 'emotional stimulation' will differentiate among individual charity brands. H5: Traits associated with 'performance' will differentiate among individual charity brands. H6: The perception of traits associated with 'emotional stimulation' is linked to individual giving behavior. H7: The perception of traits associated with 'performance' is linked to individual giving behavior. Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 1:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 1 To test the hypotheses, a mail survey was conducted of donors to nine nonprofit charitable organizations, three each from three distinctive categories of cause: animal welfare, children and visual impairment. A sample of 500 donors was drawn from the donor database of each organization. Postcard pre-notification was utilized. The final response rate was 27.9% (1255 respondents). Each respondents was asked to indicate the extent to which the 61 different traits identified in the qualitative phase applied to the organization they supported using a 7-point scale. See Table 1. Slide25:  Table 1 Brand Adjective Means Across the Nine Charities   Charity Slide26:  Table 1 Brand Adjective Means Across the Nine Charities   Charity   Slide27:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 2 The mean scores across the 61 traits were also calculated for each of the three cause groupings. These scores are shown in Table 2. Slide28:  Table 2 Brand Adjective Means Across the Three Sectors   Slide29:  Table 2 Brand Adjective Means Across the Three Sectors     Slide30:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 3 To identify significant differences in the scores shown in tables 1 and 2, a series of one-way ANOVAs were conducted. The results are found in Table 3. Interestingly here, only perceptions of the trait 'cautious' were not found to vary significantly across the nine nonprofits utilized in the study. Also, there appear to be significant differences between two or more causal groupings with respect to all of the personality traits involved. Slide31:  Table 3: ANOVA and Power Analyses   *Medium Effects - as measured by the eta squared statistic to assess effect size **Large Effects Slide32:  Table 3: ANOVA and Power Analyses   *Medium Effects - as measured by the eta squared statistic to assess effect size **Large Effects Slide33:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 4 It should be noted that the sample size is quite large, which may significantly affect any statistical tests utilized (Snyder and Lawson 1993; Thompson and Keiffer 2000). It is therefore necessary to extend this analysis to distinguish between statistical significance and practical significance (Thompson 2002). Testing for statistical significance does not indicate whether the results are 'important' as relatively minor differences in mean scores may be statistically significant but represent little practical differences. Slide34:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 5 Mean scores on the trait 'conservative,' for example, ranged from 3.89 to 4.40 on a seven-point scale, which in general indicates ambivalence, yet the result is statistically significant. The eta squared statistic for the measurement of effect size was presented in Table 3. The analysis indicates that when all is said and done, there were few practical differences in perception found to exist between causes. Only the traits of responsive, protecting, passionate and heroic appear to differ, with post hoc tests confirming that the key differences here are found for animal welfare and visual impairment. Slide35:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 6 The majority of differences that emerged were between two or more of the nine organizations involved with a total of 29 traits showing moderate or large effects across the organizations involved (as opposed to the causal groupings involved). In order to provide practical help for charity brand managers, two additional analyses were undertaken. First, a factor analysis was conducted of the traits with small (or no) effect sizes. This allows researchers to define those facets of brand personality that are shared across the organizations involved. If these traits are shared by all, they are not helpful to stress for purposes of differentiation. The results are found in Table 4. Slide36:        Table 4: Charity Non-Differentiators Factor Analysis of Low Effect and Non-Significant Traits       Slide37:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 7 In the second step, a factor analysis was conducted utilizing those traits that exhibited moderate or high effects and where it can be argued that practical perceptual differences exist across the various charities in the sample. The results are presented in Table 5. Slide38:  Table 5: Charity Differentiators Factor Analysis of Medium and High Effect Traits   Slide39:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 8 A series of regressions were run to examine the impact of brand personality trait factors on actual giving behavior. Dependent variables were developed by matching questionnaire responses post hoc with the giving histories recorded in the charity donor databases. We looked at the number of gifts given, the total amount given and the last gift given. The first regressions were run using the trait factors that were NOT able to distinguish between the charities in the sample as predictor variables. None were found to be significant. Slide40:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 9 Regressions were then run using those trait factors that were able to distinguish among charities. The results are found in Table 6. Slide41:  Table 6: Regression Results Charity Differentiating Brand Personality Factors and Giving Behavior   * Dependent Variable: Total Giving **Dependent Variable: Number of Gifts ***Dependent Variable: Last Gift   Slide42:  Quantitative Phase – The Survey page 10 Significant results were found for the number of gifts and for the amount of the last gift given. The trait factor that we labeled as voice was found to have a major bearing on the total amount given. The trait factor that we labeled emotional stimulation was found to have a major impact on the number of gifts and the amount of the last gift given. Slide43:  Discussion page 1 A large number of traits (32) were exhibited equally by all of the nine charities. These results support the findings in the qualitative phase that donors tend to 'imbue' a charity with particular characteristics because it is a charity. The common traits tend to reflect the voluntary and benevolent nature of charitable organizations. H1 and H2 are therefore supported. While a third component 'conservatism' was found, the mean scores hovered around the scalar midpoint. Slide44:  Discussion page 2 The data did not support H3. While a service factor was found, it appeared to distinguish among all organizations rather for human causes as a group. No clear patterns of traits distinguishing among the three groups of causes was found. Further work is needed. Slide45:  Discussion page 3 H4 was supported but H5 was not. There were 29 traits found to exhibit moderate or large organizational effects and allowed differentiation among the nine charities. These were found to load together in four factors. In trying to differentiate their charity brand, charity marketers should look to the nature of emotional stimulation created by the organization, the voice projected, the character of the service provision, and the extent to which the organization might be viewed as traditional. But traits did not group as expected around the notion of performance. Slide46:  Discussion page 4 There are numerous charities that are presently differentiating themselves on the factors that we found, and our results suggest that these dimensions provide them with the greatest opportunity for differentiation. Emotional stimulation: Dogs Trust UK use fun to differentiate; NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) are known for their bold stance on social issues’ National Trust focus on tradition and heritage. In terms of giving, H6 was supported (emotional stimulation affecting giving) while H7 was not (performance did not affect giving). Slide47:  Managerial Implications page 1 Charity brand personalities are structured differently from their commercial counterparts. Donors appear to have a clear conception of what it means to be a charity and how they expect such organizations to behave. Of the 61 traits identified in the study, 32 appear to be common to all charitable organizations. In the nonprofit sector this suggests that there are a series of brand personality traits that are NOT built directly through an organization’s own fundraising or marketing communications. Slide48:  Managerial Implications page 2 If the acquisition of such generic personality traits is felt to be desirable, our results suggest that an organization need only to ensure that it is recognized as a charity and/or recognized to be working with a particular cause to have people automatically imbue the organizations with these traits. For brand managers who want to differentiate their charity brands from those of their competitors, promoting values associated with benevolence or progression will NOT be helpful. Greater benefit would come from the promotion of those trait factors that were found to be distinctive, which should also help to affect giving behavior (emotional stimulation, voice, service provision and traditionality). Slide49:  Study Limitations This work is exploratory in nature, and while the results are enlightening, they may not generalize completely to the charity sector as a whole. It should also be stressed that although the sectoral factors were not linked to giving to the various charities in the study, it is possible that the perception of these traits may drive the issue of whether a given charity is included in a possible choice set and/or whether a favorable perception of 'Charity' is linked to an individual becoming a donor for the first time. Additional exploration is warranted. Slide50:  Suggestions for Future Research It would be appropriate to expand beyond this limited sampling of charities to explore additional subsectors and causes. It would also be prudent to expand beyond this UK setting to the US and other countries. Do American charities exhibit different traits from their UK counterparts? What about corporate donors and their giving patterns? Do companies give to charities that stress certain personality traits?

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