Is there a name for this phenomenon: a small benevolence removing the desire to do something more?

I thought I remembered something from school, long ago, where a study was done where volunteers were given the opportunity to do some small good thing would remove their guilt and their desire to do something bigger?

For example (I’m just making this up): Organization A asks “Hey, will you donate 2 dollars to help the homeless?” and the person says sure. Organization B comes along a day later and asks “Hey, we really need volunteers for our cold-weather shelter on Christmas. Will you come?” and the person says “Sorry, I already gave 2 bucks.”

(whereas other volunteers who weren’t asked to donate the $2 first were more likely to perform the greater action)

I hope that made some sense… was there a term for this phenomenon (or, indeed, does it even exist?) or am I just misremembering?

“Gave at the office?”

I found a 2016 paper discussing temporal aspects of charitable giving. I didn’t find any relevant terms, but the OP might find it interesting.
Time-Inconsistent Charitable Giving (PDF).

Apparently they found they could increase donations in one experiment by asking for a commitment to donate to a charity next week than for this week. Separating out the decision from the actual payment helped. At least among college undergraduates making a $5 donation. ( :dubious: )

Or, “Gave at Church.”

If there isn’t a name for it, I would call it the “Sunday afternoon effect”, as that is when people are generally at their least generous and forgiving.

Donor burnout?

Compassion Fatigue?

I’m more familiar with the opposite effect - the idea that first getting someone to do something small primes for a bigger action. The classic is going around week one just asking people to wear a button or sign a petition in support of a cause and the next week asking them for money. The action of having worn the button or signed the form primes for greater giving the following week. In this article they refer to that as

Slacktivism dances pretty close.

Virtue Signaling?

Tokenism: “A policy of formally complying with efforts to achieve a goal by making small, token gestures; especially to hire a minimal number of ethnically diverse or disadvantaged people.”

When I was in college there was a tiny Trotskyite group on campus, the Spartacus Youth League. They sold a weekly newspaper which invariably had a headline like “Smash Reagan’s Anti-Soviet War Drive” or “Smash the Oppressive Capitalist State.”

A friend of mine liked to walk by, shake his head and say, “Sorry. I smashed at the office.”