Clancy Slay

Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Healthcare Marketing BSBA


Marketing and Fashion Merchandising

First Advisor

Katharine Howie, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Marketing and Fashion Merchandising


Rewards programs are commonplace with companies seeking a competitive advantage and creating consumer loyalty. A newer development in rewards programs allows consumers to donate points rather than personally receiving these benefits. With more than $48 billion moving through these programs annually, understanding how to encourage consumers to donate rewards points has tremendous implications for reallocating funds to support worthy causes (Dorotic et al., 2017). Research on consumer donations within rewards programs is virtually absent, and many unique factors to these programs suggest prior findings on charitable giving may not generalize. One of these factors is the prevalence of hierarchical or “tiered” consumer status in loyalty programs. I examine how actual status interacts with consumers’ need for status (NFS), the degree to which individuals prioritize upward mobility within hierarchical systems and desire respect and admiration from others (Dubois et al., 2012; Ivanic, 2015), to predict donation intentions. Moreover, I examine the role of feelings of social exclusion as a mediator, as lack of status may cause feelings of rejection for consumers. Social exclusion has been shown to increase prosocial behavior when these individuals try to reconnect to the in-group and attempt to satisfy their need to belong (Maner et al., 2007; Mead et al., 2011; Twenge et al., 2009). I hypothesize that those with high-status needs but low actual status will feel excluded, and donation intention will increase in order to enhance one’s sense of self. This research contributes new knowledge on what consumer settings create social exclusion, as drivers of exclusion are largely absent in marketing literature. Finally, I present a novel finding that there may be positive benefits— donations—accompanying consumer dissatisfaction within low loyalty tiers.