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Bidding to give in the Field: Door-to-Door Fundraisers had it right from the Start

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Author Info

  • Sander Onderstal

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Arthur J.C. Schram

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Adriaan R. Soetevent

    (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract

In a door-to-door fundraising field experiment, we study the impact of fundraising mechanisms on charitable giving. We approached about 4500 households, each participating in either an all-pay auction, a lottery, a non-anonymous voluntary contribution mechanism (VCM), or an anonymous VCM. In contrast to the VCMs, households competed for a prize in the all-pay auction and the lottery. Although the all-pay auction is the superior fundraising mechanism both in theory and in the laboratory, it raised the lowest revenue per household in the field. Our experiment reveals two potential explanations for this anomaly. First, participation in the all-pay auction is substantially lower than in the other mechanisms while the average donation for those who contribute is only slightly higher. We explore various explanations for this lower participation and favor one that argues that competition in the all-pay mechanism crowds out intrinsic motivations to contribute. Second, the non-anonymity may have a negative effect: conditional on donating, households contribute less in the non-anonymous VCM than in the anonymous VCM. Among the non-anonymous mechanisms, the lottery raises the largest revenue per household. Notably, the method that scored best, the anonymous VCM, is the one most used by door-to-door fund raisers in the Netherlands.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 11-070/1.

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Date of creation: 18 Apr 2011
Date of revision: 10 Nov 2011
Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20110070

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Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl

Related research

Keywords: Charitable Fundraising; Field Experiment; Auction; Lottery; Voluntary Contribution Mechanism;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. John Duffy & Alexander Matros, 2011. "All-Pay Auctions vs. Lotteries as Provisional Fixed-Prize Fundraising Mechanisms," Working Papers 448, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2013.

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