Social Norms

The role of social norms

Previous research has found a clear link between social norms—behaviors that are common, valued, and accepted by others—and charitable giving. Put simply: when you see someone donate, you’re more likely to donate yourself.

Encouraging Giving to Women’s & Girls’ Causes: The Role of Social Norms explores how perceptions of others’ behavior influences donors’ giving to women and girls causes—and whether that differs depending on the donor’s gender.

  • Social norms and charitable giving are strongly linked: When people believe that others are interested in giving to women’s and girls’ causes, they have greater intentions to donate to these causes themselves.
  • There is a gender difference in the link between social norms and charitable giving: Men’s giving to women’s and girls’ causes is strongly tied to how they think men and women give; women’s giving is strongly tied to how they think other women give.
  • People’s donation intentions are higher when they receive social norms messages about rising levels of giving: Focusing on the rising popularity of women’s and girls’ causes increases people’s intentions to donate to those causes, compared to focusing on current levels of giving. This tactic is equally effective for male and female donors.