How disaster relief organizations solicit funds : the effects of disaster presence, message framing, and source credibility on an individual’s intention to donate



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This exploratory study examined the interaction and effect of message characteristics, organizational credibility, and the presence of disaster on intention to donate to a Disaster Relief Organization (DRO). The Elaboration Likelihood Model and the Theory of Planned Behavior were used to theorize and test participant's message processing and donation behaviors. The study design incorporated random assignment into one of eight conditions. Findings reveal (a) participants have a higher donation intention when a disaster is present, (b) negative framing, when compared with positive framing, yielded the highest intention to donate when a disaster was present, (c) when no disaster is present, participants expressed a higher intention to donate to a highly credible DRO over a DRO that lacked credibility, (d) perception of DRO credibility is mediated by presence of a disaster, and (e) social media is being used in addition to more commonly found traditionally mass media for information during a disaster. In summary, this study extends previous research on processing and donation behaviors by examining the interaction of message characteristics and source credibility both during a disaster and without a current disaster. The study contributes to the growing body of research on disaster donations by incorporating social media use.