Exploit 'mating goals' in fundraising, say academics

One of the main reasons people give to charity is to impress the opposite sex, according to academics at the University of Kent

Charities should include 'mating goals', such as the face of an attractive woman or man, in their fundraising campaigns to increase donations, research suggests.

The findings will be presented at the university on 28 May in a seminar on Darwinian psychology and its relevance to charitable giving, philanthropy and volunteering.

"People are more likely to be generous when they are in the presence of a member of the opposite sex who they are trying to impress," said Mark Van Vugt, professor of social psychology at the University of Kent and co-organiser of the seminar. "It's mostly men who show this."

Van Vugt said that an experiment by researchers at Kent showed that men were more likely to give to homeless people on the street if they were in the company of women.

Van Vugt said charities should use images of attractive women to solicit donations from men. "It sounds opaque, but pictures of attractive women associating themselves with a particular charity campaign are generally a good thing," he said. "It will attract a certain group of people, particularly men."

Women were impressed by altruistic men, said Van Vugt, and were swayed by images of children because it appealed to their nurturing instincts.

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