Women’s motivation for sponsoring children with a charity: an exploratory study

Nguyen, Ngan
Glynn, Mark
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

In an environment where many charities offer a similar cause in a similar tone and manner, children’s charities face challenges in obtaining sufficient financial support. Most of the existing literature addresses charitable giving to many different causes but does not study giving in the form of child sponsorship. Additionally, the current literature does not take gender differences into consideration, such as Chang and Lee (2011) who suggested that women and men have different perspectives and motives for charitable giving.

In the field of charitable fundraising, segmentation based on motivation has proven to be effective in identifying the target market and designing successful fundraising strategies that lead to gaining financial support. This dissertation reports a qualitative research on women’s motivation for sponsoring children with World Vision. The research aims to find out what motivates women to sponsor children (objective 1) and what leads women to choose to sponsor with World Vision (objective 2). Based on these research objectives, nine semi-structured interviews with female sponsors were conducted.

This study reveals several intrinsic and extrinsic sources in women’s motivation for child sponsorship. The results of this study show that intrinsic motivation is the most cited code (80%), thus it is the key trigger evoking women’s motivation in sponsoring children. Hence women are an important market for child sponsorship because most of their motivation is derived from an intrinsic source, i.e. the desire to pursue child sponsorship for its own sake. This study suggests women’s intrinsic motivation is governed by four factors: (1) altruistic motives, (2) reciprocity motivation, (3) the need to give back to enhance personal development; and (4) as a program of child sponsorship requires an on-going monthly contribution, “feeling good” motivates and/or retains female sponsors in continuing their sponsorship, as opposed to the initial motivation. On the other hand, this research reveals that extrinsic motivation has much less influence on women’s decision to sponsor children; these motivations include (1) the affordability of spending on a meaningful cause, and (2) social affiliation.

The second part of the research findings focuses on identifying factors that lead women to choose to sponsor with World Vision (research objective 2). Although female participants stated that most children’s charities are the same, they perceived World Vision is a good charity to donate to because of four factors: (1) it is a well-known, meaningful and Christian brand; (2) demonstration good organisational performance which derives from goals achievement, being long established and having celebrities’ endorsement; (3) it offers a personalised sponsorship program, which includes personal efforts and personal communication with sponsored children; (4) it has differentiated and/or attractive marketing communication, including positive appeal and demonstration of its good intention which shows integrity (i.e. helping children regardless of ethnicity and religion). This study finds these four factors motivate women to choose to sponsor with World Vision. It is also important to note that World Vision’s personalised sponsorship programme and marketing communication set World Vision apart for other charities.

The results of this study lead to some suggestions for facilitating women’s motivation for funding underprivileged children. The fundamental success factors for children’s charities are to target the right people, build meaningful brands and design the causes that meet donors’ preferences.

Non-profit marketing , Qualitative research , Fundraising challenge , Segmentation , Motivation for charitable giving , Branding , Organisational motivation factors , Differentiation
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