Two hundred members of the public were interviewed in high street and railway station locations in central London to ascertain the considerations that encourage them to donate generously to a disaster relief fund‐raising appeal. It emerged that the major fund‐raising triggers involved media representations of the indigency of aid recipients, portrayals of people helping themselves, and highly emotive advertising imagery. Although they were potentially patronising and demeaning to disaster victims, such depictions seemingly exerted powerful influences on donation decisions. Factors discouraging donations included media reports of unfair aid distributions, warfare or internal insurrection, and inefficiency in the relief operation. Combined fund‐raising efforts covering several organisations were viewed more favourably than individual charity initiatives. State endorsements of particular campaigns exerted little influence. Some but not all of the variables known to determine levels of donations to charity in general also explained the incidence of donations to disaster relief appeals. However, people with young children gave to disaster appeals more frequently than the rest of the sample, contradicting previous findings in the general (non‐disaster) charity fund‐raising area.
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