When does recognition increase charitable behavior? Toward a moral identity-based model

Karen Page Winterich, Vikas Mittal, Karl Aquino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


Each year, people in the United States donate more than $200 billion to charitable causes. Despite the lack of understanding of whether and how recognition increases charitable behavior, charities often offer it to motivate donor action. This research focuses on how the effectiveness of recognition on charitable behavior is dependent on the joint influence of two distinct dimensions of moral identity: internalization and symbolization. Three studies examining both monetary donations and volunteering behavior show that recognition increases charitable behavior among those characterized by high moral identity symbolization and low moral identity internalization. Notably, those who show high levels of moral identity internalization are uninfluenced by recognition, regardless of their symbolization. By understanding correlates of the two dimensions of moral identity among donors, nonprofits can strategically recognize potential donors to maximize donation and volunteering behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-134
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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