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Small matches and charitable giving: Evidence from a natural field experiment

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  • Karlan, Dean
  • List, John A.
  • Shafir, Eldar

Abstract

To further our understanding of the economics of charity, we conducted a natural field experiment. Making use of two direct mail solicitations sent to nearly 20,000 prior donors to a charity, we tested the effectiveness of $1:$1 and $1:$3 matching grants on charitable giving. We find only weak evidence that either of the matches work; in fact, for the full sample, the match only increased giving after the match deadline expired. Yet, the aggregation masks important heterogeneities: those donors who are actively supporting the organization tend to be positively influenced whereas lapsed givers are either not affected or adversely affected. Furthermore, some presentations of the match can do harm, e.g., when an example amount given is high ($75) and the match ratio is below $1:$1. Overall, the results help clarify what might cause people to give and provide further evidence that larger match ratios are not necessarily superior to smaller match ratios.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5-6 (June)
Pages: 344-350

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:5-6:p:344-350

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

Related research

Keywords: Charitable giving Matching Warm and cold list donors;

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References

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  1. Angrist, Joshua D, 2001. "Estimations of Limited Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(1), pages 2-16, January.
  2. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2004. "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior: Testing "Conditional Cooperation" in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1717-1722, December.
  3. Randolph, William C, 1995. "Dynamic Income, Progressive Taxes, and the Timing of Charitable Contributions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 709-38, August.
  4. repec:feb:natura:0053 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Karlan, Dean & List, John, 2006. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," Working Papers 13, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  6. Rondeau, Daniel & List, John A., 2008. "Matching and Challenge Gifts to Charity: Evidence from Laboratory and Natural Field Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 3278, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  8. James Andreoni & A. Abigail Payne, 2010. "Is Crowding Out Due Entirely to Fundraising? Evidence from a Panel of Charities," NBER Working Papers 16372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "The effects of seed money and refunds on charitable giving: Experimental evidence from a university capital campaign," Natural Field Experiments 00301, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2003. "Rebate versus matching: does how we subsidize charitable contributions matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 681-701, March.
  11. Rachel Croson & Jen Shang, 2008. "The impact of downward social information on contribution decisions," Natural Field Experiments 00322, The Field Experiments Website.
  12. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486, August.
  13. Gerald E. Auten & Holger Sieg & Charles T. Clotfelter, 2002. "Charitable Giving, Income, and Taxes: An Analysis of Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 371-382, March.
  14. Russell N. James & Deanna L. Sharpe, 2007. "The "Sect Effect" in Charitable Giving," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 697-726, October.
  15. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot85-1, May.
  16. Angrist, Joshua D, 2001. "Estimations of Limited Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice: Reply," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(1), pages 27-28, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Johannes Diederich & Timo Goeschl, 2013. "To Give or Not to Give: The Price of Contributing and the Provision of Public Goods," NBER Working Papers 19332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mette Trier Damgaard & Christina Gravert, 2014. "Now or never! The effect of deadlines on charitable giving: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Economics Working Papers 2014-03, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  3. Karlan, Dean S. & List, John, 2012. "How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8922, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Nicolas J. Duquette, 2013. "Do Tax Incentives Affect Charitable Contributions? Evidence from Public Charities’ Reported Revenues," 2013 Papers pdu359, Job Market Papers.
  5. Herzer, Dierk & Nunnenkamp, Peter, 2013. "Private Donations, Government Grants, Commercial Activities, and Fundraising: Cointegration and Causality for NGOs in International Development Cooperation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 234-251.
  6. Jade Wong & Andreas Ortman, 2013. "Do Donors Care About the Price of Giving? A Review of the Evidence, with Some Theory to Organize It," Discussion Papers 2013-22, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  7. Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Pham Khanh, Nam, 2011. "Funding a New Bridge in Rural Vietnam: A field experiment on conditional cooperation and default contributions," Working Papers in Economics 503, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  8. Dean Karlan & John A List, 2012. "How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People’s Donations to Fund Public Goods?," Working Papers id:4880, eSocialSciences.
  9. Diederich, Johannes & Goeschl, Timo, 2011. "Giving in a Large Economy: Price vs. Non-Price Effects in a Field Experiment," Working Papers 0514, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  10. Castillo, Marco & Petrie, Ragan & Wardell, Clarence, 2014. "Fundraising through online social networks: A field experiment on peer-to-peer solicitation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 29-35.
  11. Dean Karlan and John A. List, 2012. "How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People’s Donations to Fund Public Goods? - Working Paper 292," Working Papers 292, Center for Global Development.

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