Do virtual goods entice more online donations? perspectives of mental imagery and project appeal

Chundong Zheng, Yanan Cao, Yi Wu, Jie Yu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Most existing research on online fundraising options has examined monetary settings. Recently, a new option has emerged that uses virtual goods. In this setting, donors choose between different amounts of virtual goods rather than different amounts of money. Whether this setting of options will impact donors' willingness to donate has yet been empirically tested in the literature. We propose that the concreteness of the donation option itself plays an important role here, and we compare the influences of two different donation option settings, i.e., virtual goods option and monetary option, on individuals' donation willingness. We conducted three experiments and found that charity projects using the virtual goods option are better able to entice donations than those using monetary settings. This effect is mediated by mental imagery and is moderated by the types of project appeals (i.e., altruistic vs. egoistic). Finally, both the theoretical and practical contributions of this research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103754
JournalInformation and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Donation willingness
  • Mental imagery
  • Monetary option
  • Online donation
  • Project appeals
  • Virtual goods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management


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