January 22, 2016

Fundraising Events That Involve the "Martyrdom Effect"

Albin Lohr-Jones, Pacific Press, LightRocket, Getty Images
Over 2,500 participants took part in the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn to raise money for Camp Sunshine, which helps terminally ill children.

In this episode of "What’s the Big Idea?," Christopher Olivola, a professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University, explains why donors choose to participate in fundraising events in which they must physically "suffer," such as running a marathon, dousing themselves with a bucket of ice water, or diving into freezing water.

Through something known the "martyrdom effect," events like these may even be an incentive for donors to give more, says Mr. Olivola.

Listen to the full interview below for more examples.