Work, Fundraiser Chocolate and a Social Experiment

The title of this article may be a little confusing, and in reality, it is, as those things do not usually go together. However, last week, I made it happen.

My wife is of Portuguese decent and her and my kids belong to a local Portuguese organization that every year holds a substantial conference. As a part of this, they usually have various fundraisers throughout the year to raise money and support what they do.  This year was no different, and one of the fundraisers was selling chocolate (‘World’s Finest Chocolate’ to be exact.). I am sure everyone is familiar with this big box of assorted chocolate that contains 60 bars that you are to sell for $1 each. And though we support this cause, we dislike selling chocolate or doing fundraisers, for things that are not well known or affect a lot of people (such as a fundraiser to fight Cancer or another disease). Because of this, we planned to just buy the whole box for $60 and give the chocolate away.

This is where I came up with a great idea. I work for a fairly large company that has kitchens on every floor stocked with free food and drinks. And although we have these stocked kitchens, anytime someone comes in with additional goodies, they disappear in seconds. So I decided to leave the box out, with 1 dollar on top, to see if people will pay for a bar, steal a bar or just ignore the box. On the 2nd day, I would put the box out again without the seeded dollar and on the last day, I would put out a sign asking people to take it all.

I have high hopes for humanity, however, I will be honest when I say I expected all of the chocolate to be gone the first day and less than 50% of the money. I was very wrong. After the first day, in which I seeded the box with $1, there were a total of 13 bars missing and I had $10. So only a few people decided to take a bar without leaving a dollar. I should note that there was no sign informing people to leave a dollar. Just that this is widely known fundraiser chocolate and there was money left on top.

The second day, I made the mistake of leaving the chocolate int he SAME kitchen. People saw the box, with no money on it, however, if they remembered it from the day before, then they may feel inclined to leave money again. And that is just what happened… sort of. At the end of the day, only 4 bars were removed from the box, yet another $2 was left. Had I left the box in another kitchen, then we could have potentially seen a different outcome.

At the end of the 2nd day, I put a note out on the box informing people the chocolate had all been paid for and it was now “Free” and asked them to help themselves. When I showed up on the 3rd morning, the box had 1 bar left. People had swarmed the now obviously free chocolate and taken what they could (which proved my initial point, that people wanted free items.

Obviously, this experiment was not perfect. I did not have a control group. I was not watching over the box, so I have no idea if someone perhaps left 1 dollar and then took multiple bars. I also did not have a way to know what people were thinking in regards to what was left. If I were to do this again, I would try a few things, such as using multiple kitchens with different signs ($1, Free, or no sign at all), as well as different options of watching what went on, as well as a different location (perhaps at my desk) or perhaps a note or some information on what the money was for.

This was by no means a perfect experiment, however, for me it was fun and interesting. I enjoy trying to understand people and their thought process. Do you enjoy little experiments such as this? Share your experiments below, or perhaps what you would have changed in mine!

Have you subscribed to my blog yet? Perhaps you have yet to follow me on Instagram? I hoping to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way. … Also, please be sure to comment on this or any of my other posts with your thoughts or even what you want me to blog about next!

2 thoughts on “Work, Fundraiser Chocolate and a Social Experiment

  1. Well that goes to show people like FREE! I think you ought to do more experiments as it really does give insight into behavior. I like to think I would have left a tip if there hadn’t been a price on the bars 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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