When: Friday, Feb. 26
Place: 218 Woodburn Hall (second floor)
Presenter: Adam Seth Levine, PhD candidate Department of Political Science University of Michigan
Successful Solicitations: Explaining When Requests for Political Donations are Persuasive
Each year, millions of individuals donate billions of dollars to interest groups, political parties, and campaigns. Many of these donations are the direct result of receiving a solicitation. The goal of my talk is to explain why some of these solicitations are more persuasive than others. A common argument is that they are more persuasive when they mention issues that people care about. I challenge this claim by building a theory of how people decide to donate money and then using it to show why mentioning issues that people care about can actually decrease their willingness to donate.
This situation arises when the issues that people care about also remind them of their personal financial struggles, such as unemployment, inflation, the cost of health care, and the cost of education. Using experiments and survey data, I find that this effect occurs even if people are willing to participate in other non-monetary ways such as volunteering their time. My results have two implications. First, they show why many solicitations that are designed to broaden the donor pool may actually reduce it. Second, and more broadly, they demonstrate the potential pitfall of any marketing attempts (political or otherwise) that remind people of a financial struggle or poor economic times.
Bio: Adam Seth Levine is pursuing a dual Ph.D./M.A. in Political Science and Economics at the University of Michigan. His research examines how people decide to participate in politics (such as donating money and volunteering time) and when requests for participation are persuasive. In addition to political science and economics, his research is grounded in psychology, marketing and political communication. He has published in Political Analysis, Perspectives on Politics, and the National Tax Journal.