Incentives: A Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Joann Wolwowicz

If you are in a club or organization and are planning an event or want people to do something (fill out a survey, vote, come to a meeting, etc.), you know how difficult that task just might be. People seem to not want to do anything nowadays. This stems from either just sheer laziness or a complete lack of interest; ultimately it’s a very frustrating thing. Matt and I are always looking to increase readership of The Charger Bulletin, and you may or may not have seen the golden tickets that were given out at the beginning of last semester. If you picked up a Charger Bulletin and your copy contained the golden ticket, you won a prize. It was just a small incentive to get people reading? So did it work? Do incentives really work? And are they a good thing, or do they just encourage a problem?

Overall, I think incentives do draw people to do things, but their effectiveness is limited in a way because people STILL do not participate. In anything that you try to do, you will never get 100 percent of the people eligible to participate to participate. The reason being is that some people do not care or will not care no matter what is offered, some are too lazy to even attempt to participate, and some simply just forget. It is unbelievably frustrating, especially when you are just asking people to do something really simple: like vote for example. I guarantee all of you that the majority of this campus did not vote in last week’s USGA election, even though there were incentives to vote. It could not have been easier. Voting is one of the easiest things to do. All you had to do was open the email, click the link, and pick your candidates. USGA even offered Five Guys gift cards to anyone who voted in Bartels. Sounds like a pretty good incentive to me.

So since incentives do not bring a majority of people to an event, should we stop using them? No, of course not. Though they don’t work as well as we expect sometimes, they do often bring more people to do something than would have originally gone to things. Often it depends on what is being offered. I know last year, so many students went to the one basketball game with cans to donate, because free t-shirts were being given out to anyone who donated a nonperishable food item. That time, the incentive worked very well. Scope’s incentives for events also work very well. They always have publicity items in Bartels on the tables to advertise their events. Then you cannot forget the massive amounts of free stuff that they give to this campus almost at every event. It’s really incredible. However, they still don’t always have massive amounts of crowds at every event as I’m sure they would like.

It is disappointing that in recent years that the motivation and willingness to participate in things has gone down. You should not have to essentially bribe someone to do something or offer them something in return. People should want to participate in voting, meetings, and event; but the sad truth is that they don’t. If incentive’s really work, continue to use them to their full potential by all means. Having people at an event because of the free t-shirt is better than having no one there at all. I just think that people all together need to rejuvenate themselves and aim to be more involved. If everyone just increased their level of caring by half, the level of participation and enthusiasm on this campus would drastically increase, and I think we really need that.