The Medium is the Motivation: Understanding the Role of Media Messaging in Individual Charitable Giving

Date of Completion

January 2012


Business Administration, Marketing|Sociology, Theory and Methods|Speech Communication|Multimedia Communications|Mass Communications




Individual charitable giving constitutes the largest segment of philanthropic acts each year in the United States. Communication plays a role in an individual's decision to give to charity. However, research has not focused on media as a source of influence toward charitable giving. This study utilizes an experimental design to address the gap in existing literature concerning the association between media and individual charitable giving. Personal characteristics such as empathy, altruism and sex are also considered as factors that influence giving behavior and operate in tandem with media. ^ Four media types were used to determine differences in giving behavior associated with various media. The results suggest that the media are influential in the process of motivation toward giving behavior through creating an emotional connection with audience members regarding the charitable cause. Various media are useful in contributing to the emotional motivations and responses of audience members. The implications of the research findings and directions for future research are discussed. ^