"Want" versus "Need": How Linguistic Framing Influences Motivations and Behavior in Crowdfunding Projects

  • SU, Lei (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Online crowdfunding has recently received a great deal of attention as an alternative and appealing financing channel. According to the “2015CF” Crowdfunding Industry Report (Crowdfundingsourcing.org 2015), global crowdfunding experienced accelerated growth in 2014, expanding by 167 percent to reach $16.2 billion raised, up from $6.1 billion in 2013. In 2015, the industry is set to again more than double, on its way to raising $34.4 billion. In any crowdfunding campaign, the fundraiser is the person who raises the funding request, and those who decide to contribute to the project are funders or contributors. Crowdfunding projects can be categorized into reward-based or donation-based, depending on whether or not the funders get rewards (either monetary or non-monetary) from funding the project.

    According to a random search on three leading crowdfunding websites (Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Pozible), the two most frequently used words in crowdfunding project descriptions are “want” and “need”. Nearly 48% of projects posted on these websites use either “want” or “need” in their project description, with 147,066 projects using “want” and 278,634 using “need”. If a person is going to post a crowdfunding campaign on online platforms, will the subtle differences between “I want your help” and “I need your help” in his or her post influence the intention and behavior of potential funders?

    Though the words “want” and “need” are used somewhat interchangeably in many contexts, we propose that they can profoundly influence the perception of crowdfunding projects. By examining the fundamental difference between the two words from a linguistic perspective, we speculate that a “want” (versus “need”) claim helps to provide a competent image of the fundraiser, and thus increases the motivation and behavior of investors to fund their project when the crowdfunding campaign is reward-based. Conversely, when the crowdfunding campaign is donation-based, a “need” (versus“want”) claim increases the intention and behavior of investors to fund the project, due to the greater perceived criticality of the request activated by the “need” (versus “want”) claim. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate linguistic elements in the crowdfunding industry, which is an emerging marketing phenomenon increasing in popularity worldwide. Four studies are proposed to support our arguments, including an initial investigation on real market data and laboratory experiments.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1730/06/20

    UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities


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