We examine how individuals’ regulatory focus affects their donation behavior and how personal events experienced before the donation moderate this relationship. In this research, regulatory focus refers to the basic motivational orientation that affects how individuals pursue their goals. We propose that donors will judge potential rewards and risks associated with making a donation when deciding whether to donate and that regulatory focus and personal events will have a significant influence on this judgment. The results from both the survey and the experiment confirmed that participants with promotion focus were more likely to donate than those with prevention focus. In addition, the experimental results revealed that compared to those experiencing no personal event, the donation likelihood of prevention-focused participants increased significantly after experiencing a positive personal event but did not change after experiencing a negative personal event. In a similar vein, experiencing a negative event decreased the donation likelihood of promotion-focused participants whereas experiencing a positive event did not. Our research contributes new findings and insights to both regulatory focus and donation literature and provides useful guidelines for nonprofit organizations to design and implement donation programs.
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