Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of the donation appeals requiring physical effort on consumers’ willingness to donate in the context of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Moreover, this paper investigates the moderating role of donation proximity on consumers’ attitudinal and behavioral responses to CSR initiatives. Design/methodology/approach: Two studies were conducted using a 2 (donation appeal type: fitness vs general) by 2 (donation proximity: nearby vs faraway) between-subjects experimental design. The authors recruited 234 participants from Qualtrics’ online panel (Study 1) and 122 participants from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (Study 2). Findings: The study findings indicate that the consumers tend to perceive the company to be more socially responsible (i.e. perceived CSR engagement) when the donation appeal involves local beneficiaries and rewards fitness (i.e. fitness appeal). The positive impact of the fitness appeal was not observed when the donation involved faraway targets. Additionally, the mediation analyses indicate that the perceived CSR engagement has a spillover effect on behavioral outcomes (e.g. willingness to donate) when the initiative supports local beneficiaries. Originality/value: This study provides several theoretical contributions to the services marketing literature by examining the role of fitness appeals in enhancing perceived CSR engagement and investigating the moderating role of donation proximity on customers’ willingness to donate to charities.
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