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Khan Academy has a donation page. You can choose to give a Monthly or One-time donation. Hopper, a mascot for Khan Academy is behind the donation buttons:

#1 Visual Aid

If you hover over Hopper when One-time donation is selected, he says the following:

#2 Visual Aid

Once you select Monthly, Hopper does the following:

#3 Visual Aid

Does Hopper increase donations for Khan Academy? Does it help the process of donations for Khan Academy?

  • You'd have to ask Khan that question. We can only guess that he does. – plainclothes Apr 11 '16 at 20:55
  • @plainclothes Khan is a busy man. I will never be able to ask Khan this question. I'm just curious of what you guys think? Does it influence your donation process? Do you see Hopper as annoying? Should other companies use similar mascots? – Cøde Play Apr 11 '16 at 20:58
  • Unfortunately "what do you guys think" type questions are not well suited for the SE environment. It is an interesting notion, but just not something that fits on this site, since we can't actually answer it. – Evil Closet Monkey Apr 11 '16 at 22:51
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Okay, in a sense you're asking for an opinion, but I'll try to give you more than that by backing it up somewhat.

My view is that yes, Hopper would help increase the likelihood of donations. And, I suspect that a cute mascot like Hopper is more likely to connect with the target audience for Khan Academy, as most of the target audience are likely to be students from mid-teens to mid-twenties.

East Tennessee State University has published an Undergraduate Honours Thesis entitled: Analyzing the effects of brand mascots on social media: Johnson City Power Board case study.

The research in this paper found that customers of Johnson City Power Board were more engaged with "Will Power" (the mascot) and more likely to be "talking about the mascot" than any of the other 'topics' on their Facebook page. Other topics included things like news stories, press releases, sponsorships, events, operations, and so on. Of course, this is talking about mascots in a social media context. However, the 24 page thesis is an interesting read on branding, mascots, etc. In its conclusion, it states:

Developing a mascot or brand character can be effective tool in building a strong brand and rapport with consumers. Mascots are useful tools in personifying a brand and developing strong, trusting relationships with consumers....Social media sites are a reliable tool for direct communication with consumers. An effective mascot can drive up communication and traffic on social media sites if used effectively.

There has also been a lot of research into the influence of food companies' brand mascots and entertainment companies' cartoon media characters on children's diet and health. So clearly, mascots have an impact on human behaviour in that age group.

The thing about Khan Academy, as I mentioned earlier, is that it's likely target audience are students, most of whom are young and probably still living at home. And of course, research has repeatedly shown that children have a significant influence on their parents purchasing decisions. In his article "Branding is no longer child's play!", published in The Journal of Consumer Marketing in 2004, Lindstrom argues:

“The BRANDchild study conducted by research institute Millward Brown among 2,000 kids aged eight to 14 across seven countries supported by data from the BrandZ study, including more than 15,000 kids of the same age across 14 countries, reveals that in up to 80 percent of all brand choices, tweens control the final decision…accounting for an astounding US$1.18 trillion per year.”

I can only imagine then that this influence also extends to the donations parents make and, since Khan Academy is an organisation that is actually helping their own child, they are probably more likely to make that donation. So much more so if a cute mascot like Hopper connects with their influencing student child.

Finally, let's not forget that tweens (aged 8-14) themselves control a significant amount of money and are also more likely to donate a buck or more if they connect with a character like Hopper.

  • Nice pointers to replace the studies. There is another recent question floating around here about mascots - you should find it and answer there too! I think the data is relevant as well. – Evil Closet Monkey Apr 11 '16 at 22:58
  • Just found it - go answer this! :) ux.stackexchange.com/q/86092/5591 – Evil Closet Monkey Apr 11 '16 at 23:03
  • Thanks. Sorry, I didn't realize this question was so opinion based. I thought I would get back reports of Khan Academy's donations before and after Hopper. Or, research on why or why not mascots work for websites. You did great! – Cøde Play Apr 12 '16 at 0:33
  • @EvilClosetMonkey Thanks. Just posted an answer to that as well. – Monomeeth Apr 12 '16 at 0:44

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