The price of beauty

Differential effects of design elements with and without cost implications in nonprofit donor solicitations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Research on the optimization of donation solicitations has focused on language and content rather than appearance. The present work considers how a solicitation's appearance influences donor response. The results indicate that potential donors make inferences about the soliciting organization based on the aesthetics of the solicitation materials. In general, highly aesthetic elements increase perceptions of organizational professionalism, which consequently leads to greater donations. However, aesthetic enhancement can backfire; when high levels of aesthetics with cost implications (e.g., embossed cardstock, gold ink) are combined with high levels of aesthetics without cost implications (e.g., attractive background, appealing font), perceptions of organizational wastefulness discourage donations. Thus, the most effective solicitation is not the most beautiful but rather one offering high levels of aesthetics without cost implications and low levels of aesthetics with cost implications. The studies demonstrate these effects in the field and in the lab and also identify moderators of the negative effect of aesthetics with cost implications on donations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-815
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Fingerprint

beauty
aesthetics
donation
costs
wastefulness
Aesthetics
Costs
moderator
gold
organization
Donation
language

Keywords

  • Aesthetics
  • Design
  • Donation solicitations
  • Frugality
  • Nonprofit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

Cite this

@article{f73d85779ad249c0847a140fb43aaf75,
title = "The price of beauty: Differential effects of design elements with and without cost implications in nonprofit donor solicitations",
abstract = "Research on the optimization of donation solicitations has focused on language and content rather than appearance. The present work considers how a solicitation's appearance influences donor response. The results indicate that potential donors make inferences about the soliciting organization based on the aesthetics of the solicitation materials. In general, highly aesthetic elements increase perceptions of organizational professionalism, which consequently leads to greater donations. However, aesthetic enhancement can backfire; when high levels of aesthetics with cost implications (e.g., embossed cardstock, gold ink) are combined with high levels of aesthetics without cost implications (e.g., attractive background, appealing font), perceptions of organizational wastefulness discourage donations. Thus, the most effective solicitation is not the most beautiful but rather one offering high levels of aesthetics without cost implications and low levels of aesthetics with cost implications. The studies demonstrate these effects in the field and in the lab and also identify moderators of the negative effect of aesthetics with cost implications on donations.",
keywords = "Aesthetics, Design, Donation solicitations, Frugality, Nonprofit",
author = "Claudia Townsend",
year = "2017",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1093/jcr/ucx059",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "44",
pages = "794--815",
journal = "Journal of Consumer Research",
issn = "0093-5301",
publisher = "University of Chicago",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The price of beauty

T2 - Differential effects of design elements with and without cost implications in nonprofit donor solicitations

AU - Townsend, Claudia

PY - 2017/12/1

Y1 - 2017/12/1

N2 - Research on the optimization of donation solicitations has focused on language and content rather than appearance. The present work considers how a solicitation's appearance influences donor response. The results indicate that potential donors make inferences about the soliciting organization based on the aesthetics of the solicitation materials. In general, highly aesthetic elements increase perceptions of organizational professionalism, which consequently leads to greater donations. However, aesthetic enhancement can backfire; when high levels of aesthetics with cost implications (e.g., embossed cardstock, gold ink) are combined with high levels of aesthetics without cost implications (e.g., attractive background, appealing font), perceptions of organizational wastefulness discourage donations. Thus, the most effective solicitation is not the most beautiful but rather one offering high levels of aesthetics without cost implications and low levels of aesthetics with cost implications. The studies demonstrate these effects in the field and in the lab and also identify moderators of the negative effect of aesthetics with cost implications on donations.

AB - Research on the optimization of donation solicitations has focused on language and content rather than appearance. The present work considers how a solicitation's appearance influences donor response. The results indicate that potential donors make inferences about the soliciting organization based on the aesthetics of the solicitation materials. In general, highly aesthetic elements increase perceptions of organizational professionalism, which consequently leads to greater donations. However, aesthetic enhancement can backfire; when high levels of aesthetics with cost implications (e.g., embossed cardstock, gold ink) are combined with high levels of aesthetics without cost implications (e.g., attractive background, appealing font), perceptions of organizational wastefulness discourage donations. Thus, the most effective solicitation is not the most beautiful but rather one offering high levels of aesthetics without cost implications and low levels of aesthetics with cost implications. The studies demonstrate these effects in the field and in the lab and also identify moderators of the negative effect of aesthetics with cost implications on donations.

KW - Aesthetics

KW - Design

KW - Donation solicitations

KW - Frugality

KW - Nonprofit

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85039730458&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85039730458&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1093/jcr/ucx059

DO - 10.1093/jcr/ucx059

M3 - Article

VL - 44

SP - 794

EP - 815

JO - Journal of Consumer Research

JF - Journal of Consumer Research

SN - 0093-5301

IS - 4

ER -