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Transactions Costs in Charitable Giving: Evidence from Two Field Experiments

Author

Listed:
  • Huck Steffen

    () (University College London)

  • Rasul Imran

    () (University College London)

Abstract

In large-scale fundraising campaigns based on direct mailings, typically less than 5% of individuals donate to the charitable cause. We present evidence from two field experiments designed to measure the existence of transaction costs that inhibit charitable giving in such fundraising campaigns, and shed light on the nature of such transaction costs. The experiments are designed in conjunction with the Bavarian State Opera House. The first mail-out experiment was implemented over two stages using a within-subject design. We develop a theoretical framework that makes precise the identifying assumptions under which we can exploit this two-stage design to measure the following structural parameters among potential donors: (i) the share of donors who would make a strictly positive donation in the complete absence of transaction costs and (ii) the probability that a potential donor has sufficiently low transactions costs to make a strictly positive donation. Our results imply response rates to mail-out solicitations would almost double in the complete absence of transaction costs. The second field experiment provides more evidence on the nature of transaction costs. We distinguish between ex ante transaction costs, which prevent the choice problem from being considered and ex post transaction costs, which prevent choices being implemented. We find that the likelihood of a donation being made increases by 26% in response to even a small reduction in ex post transaction costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Huck Steffen & Rasul Imran, 2010. "Transactions Costs in Charitable Giving: Evidence from Two Field Experiments," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-35, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:10:y:2010:i:1:n:31
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fehrler, Sebastian & Kosfeld, Michael, 2014. "Pro-social missions and worker motivation: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 99-110.
    2. Kimberley Ann Scharf & Sarah Smith & Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm, 2017. "Lift and Shift: The Effect of Fundraising Interventions in Charity Space and Time," CESifo Working Paper Series 6694, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Stephen Knowles & Maroš Servátka, 2014. "Transaction costs, the Opportunity Cost of Time and Inertia in Charitable Giving:," Working Papers 1401, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2014.
    4. Mette Trier Damgaard & Christiana Gravert, 2016. "The hidden costs of nudging: Experimental evidence from reminders in fundraising," Economics Working Papers 2016-03, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    5. Alexander L. Brown & Jonathan Meer & J. Forrest Williams, 2013. "Why Do People Volunteer? An Experimental Analysis of Preferences for Time Donations," NBER Working Papers 19066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Robert Dur & Robin Zoutenbier, 2015. "Intrinsic Motivations of Public Sector Employees: Evidence for Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 16(3), pages 343-366, August.
    7. Apesteguia, Jose & Funk, Patricia & Iriberri, Nagore, 2013. "Promoting rule compliance in daily-life: Evidence from a randomized field experiment in the public libraries of Barcelona," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 266-284.
    8. Axel Sonntag & Daniel John Zizzo, 2014. "Reminders, payment method and charitable giving: evidence from an online experiment," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 14-04, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    9. Damgaard, Mette Trier & Gravert, Christina, 2017. "Now or never! The effect of deadlines on charitable giving: Evidence from two natural field experiments," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 78-87.
    10. Eckel, Catherine & Grossman, Philip J., 2017. "Comparing rebate and matching subsidies controlling for donors’ awareness: Evidence from the field," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 88-95.
    11. Gerlinde Fellner & Rupert Sausgruber & Christian Traxler, 2009. "Testing Enforcement Strategies in the Field: Legal Threat, Moral Appeal and Social Information," Working Papers 2009-23, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    12. Huck, Steffen & Rasul, Imran, 2011. "Matched fundraising: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 351-362, June.
    13. Nadine Chlaß & Lata Gangadharan & Kristy Jones, 2015. "Charitable giving and intermediation," Jena Economic Research Papers 2015-021, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    14. Steffen Huck & Imran Rasul & Andrew Shephard, 2015. "Comparing Charitable Fundraising Schemes: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment and a Structural Model," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 326-369, May.
    15. Meer Jonathan & Rigbi Oren, 2013. "The Effects of Transactions Costs and Social Distance: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 271-296, July.
    16. Knowles, Stephen & Servátka, Maroš, 2015. "Transaction costs, the opportunity cost of time and procrastination in charitable giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 54-63.
    17. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2017. "Narrow framing in charitable giving: Results from a two-period field experiment," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2017-305, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    18. Jonathan Meer & Oren Rigbi, 2012. "Transactions Costs and Social Distance in Philanthropy: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Working Papers 1205, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.

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