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Guilt and Giving - Use of Faulty Logic

First, let's look at a comparison of a true mathematical statement and its inverse.

Mathematical Statement The Inverse Of The Statement
If x = 1, then x is a solution to

This is true since when we let x=1 we get
12 - 3(1) + 2 = 0, which is true.

If x ≠ 1, then x is not a solution to

This is what is known as the inverse of the statement on the left.  In the inverse, both the if-part and then-part are negated. Often, as is the case here, the inverse will not be true even though the original statement is true. This statement is false since the number x=2 is not equal to one and it is a solution to x2-3x+2=0.

How does this apply to Guilt and Giving? The commonly used fundraising tactic shown below is completely analogous.

Original Statement Assumed The Inverse Of This Statement Is
It is assumed that...

If you give to a children's charity, then you care about children.

I think we can all accept this statement as being true, at least on an individual basis.  It is true that corporations will often raise money for children's causes to generate good PR, but we will restrict this to individuals to avoid that case.

If you don't give to a children's charity, then you don't care about children.

Often, this is the type of "guilt trip" suggested by phone solicitors when you fail to make a donation to their charity. They are hoping that since you believe that the original assumption shown on the left is true that you will automatically assume that the inverse is true.  When we (falsely) make that assumption, then we start feeling guilty and may donate.  After all, who wants to not care about the welfare of children?

The fact is, however, that you do not need to donate money to that particular organization to care - you can show your concern in many other ways.

To see how using "Guilt" is actually listed as a fundraising strategy, go to Fundraising Success Strategies.

Also a paper from This Site discusses this issue of using guilt as a tool of fundraising.







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