Charities rely on social media for fundraising. So you might think that a big Facebook following should be good for a cause.
Well, it turns out that a high "like" count doesn't lead necessarily to a high cash count. In fact, just the opposite. People who "like" causes are less likely to donate money or volunteer their time, according to a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia compared how volunteers behaved after public displays of support (like Facebook liking and pin-wearing) and private actions (like signing a petition). People making public displays were less likely to donate money or time at a later date.
"If charities run public token campaigns under the belief that they lead to meaningful support, they may be sacrificing their precious resources in vain," lead author Kirk Kristofferson told Popular Science.
The point is echoed by UNICEF Sweden, which has complained about "slacktivists" proffering love, but failing to follow through with resources that matter. "Like us on Facebook, and we will vaccinate zero children against polio," said a recent ad.
In other words, you might feel good showing your support, but the charity couldn't care less. It wants something it can take to the bank, not a fleeting moment of Internet traffic.