Leveraging Creativity in Charity Marketing: The Impact of Engaging in Creative Activities on Subsequent Donation Behavior

Lidan Xu, Ravi Mehta, Darren W. Dahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Charities are constantly looking for new and more effective ways to engage potential donors in order to secure the resources needed to deliver services. The current work demonstrates that creative activities are one way for marketers to meet this challenge. Field and lab studies find that engaging potential donors in creative activities positively influences their donation behaviors (i.e., the likelihood of donation and the monetary amount donated). Importantly, the observed effects are shown to be context independent: they hold even when potential donors engage in creative activities unrelated to the focal cause of the charity (or the charitable organization itself). The findings suggest that engaging in a creative activity enhances the felt autonomy of the participant, thus inducing a positive affective state, which in turn leads to higher donation behaviors. Positive affect is demonstrated to enhance donation behaviors due to perceptions of donation impact and a desire for mood maintenance. However, the identified effects emerge only when one engages in a creative activity—not when the activity is noncreative, or when only the concept of creativity itself is made salient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-94
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number5
StateAccepted/In press - Oct 16 2021


  • autonomy
  • creativity
  • donation
  • positive affect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing

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