4 May 2020
Prof. Hanna Zagefka
Royal Holloway University of London
Department of Psychology
Evidence for the International Development Select Committee (chair: Sarah Champion MP) on the impact of coronavirus on developing countries (Humanitarian crises monitoring)
The presented evidence speaks to this aspect of the inquiry:
- The impact of the outbreak, and consequential mitigation measures, on fund-raising by UK-based development charities/NGOs
Summary of key points
A rapid response programme of research tested predictors of British nationals donating money to coronavirus relief efforts in developing countries. Key findings:
- Views on who is to blame for the coronavirus crisis affect British donors’ decisions of whether to donate to coronavirus relief efforts in developing countries. A belief that the British government has mishandled the crisis encourages donations
- A belief that the Chinese government has mishandled the crisis discourages donations1
- A belief that coronavirus victims in developing countries are to blame for their problems themselves discourages donations2
- Seeing the coronavirus crisis as a global problem that can only be addressed by cooperation across the globe encourages donations to developing countries3
Relevance/implications of insights
- The COVid-19 outbreak will impact fundraising efforts by UK-based development charities/NGOs, because different domestic and international donation appeals compete with each other4
- Implications of the pandemic for funding issues in the aid sector can be minimised by intelligent design of donation appeals, taking psychological processes into account:
- Donation appeals will be more successful if they are designed to emphasise the innocence of those suffering from the coronavirus crisis in developing countries
- Donation appeals will be more successful if they are designed to emphasise that this is a global threat and that all humanity needs to unite to address the problem
- Media coverage that attributes blame to different governments directly affects the public’s appetite to support fund-raising efforts by UK-based development charities
- Insights are based on
- Three rapidly conducted online studies of British nationals which are currently under review (N ca 700)
- Relevant insights from previously published papers (see below); research funded by ESRC
- The author is happy to share materials, manuscripts, data upon request
Limitations & strengths of evidence
- Some of the data is correlational, so caution needs to be exerted when making inferences about causality
- Some of the studies did not assess actual donation behaviour, but self-reported willingness to donate. However, there is good evidence that self-reports are a good proxy for actual donation behaviour2
Is professor of social psychology at Royal Holloway University of London. Her lab researches prosocial behaviour and intergroup helping.
Key sources of information/references
1 Zagefka, H. (under review). Willingness to donate money to help coronavirus victims: effects of group identities and blame attributions. British Journal of Social Psychology.
2 Zagefka, H., et al. (2011). Donating to disaster victims: responses to natural and humanly caused events. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 353-363.
3 Zagefka, H. (under review). Anxiety and Global Common Fate as Predictors of Ingroup and Outgroup Helping in the Context of COVID-19. British Journal of Social Psychology.
4 Zagefka, H., & James, T. (2015). The psychology of charitable donations to disaster victims and beyond. Social Issues and Policy Review, 9, 155-192.
5 Oppenheimer, D. M., & Olivola, C. Y. (Eds.). (2011). The science of giving. London: Psychology Press.