The Trick to Getting Narcissists to Give to Charities

Despite their dark side, narcissistic people will engage in charitable behaviors in certain situations, new research suggests

Narcissistic people aren’t known for being generous. But emerging research suggests that narcissistic people may be willing to engage in charitable activities in certain situations, a finding that could have implications for nonprofits seeking to design more effective appeals.

.. comparatively little is known about how and why narcissistic people do good.

.. narcissistic people may be the ultimate “rational actors” when it comes to charitable giving. That is, they tend to weigh the costs and benefits to themselves before acting, unlike other people, who often make emotionally driven or automatic decisions to help and give. Sometimes, this can make narcissists look generous, at least on the surface.

.. We found that those who self-identified as narcissistic were more likely to post a video of themselves doing the challenge but less likely to actually donate money. That suggested to us that narcissistic people were motivated to take part in the challenge not because they cared about the issue—even though on the surface it may have seemed like they did—but because they wanted the attention that came with posting a video.

That said, the videos themselves helped increase awareness of ALS, so it is likely that even those who posted videos without donating money played a role in the success of the campaign.

.. The takeaway for charities is that narcissistic people may prefer engaging in charitable activities that are easy, don’t cost anything and that involve a one-time commitment. An example would be so-called slacktivism activities, such as sharing social-media posts, which can be used to draw attention to certain important issues.

.. These examples suggest that charities might want to consider increasing the rewards or benefits that come from donating, especially in populations that tend to score higher in narcissism, such as males and younger adults

These benefits could be tangible, such as a small gift, although intangible benefits such as attention and reputation might matter even more to narcissistic people.

.. there may be a place in the world for all kinds of givers, and understanding what drives narcissistic people to do good could help charitable organizations be more strategic in how they appeal for help.