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The counterintuitive effects of thank-you gifts on charitable giving

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  • Newman, George E.
  • Jeremy Shen, Y.

Abstract

Six experiments examined the effects of thank-you gifts on charitable giving. Results indicate that although people expect that the offer of thank-you gifts will increase donations, such offers actually reduce charitable donations. This effect was obtained across a wide variety of charities and gifts types, regardless of whether the donations were hypothetical or real, the gift was desirable or undesirable, the charity was familiar or unfamiliar, or the gift was more or less valuable. Moreover, such patterns cannot solely be explained in terms of inferences about the charity’s quality (e.g., either their efficacy or current wealth), the undesirability of the gift itself, or simple anchoring effects. These results are discussed within a broader theoretical framework concerning the effects of extrinsic incentives on altruistic behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Newman, George E. & Jeremy Shen, Y., 2012. "The counterintuitive effects of thank-you gifts on charitable giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 973-983.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:5:p:973-983
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2012.05.002
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    4. Lange, Andreas & Price, Michael K. & Santore, Rudy, 2017. "Signaling quality through gifts: Implications for the charitable sector," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 48-61.
    5. Catherine C. Eckel & David H. Herberich & Jonathan Meer, 2016. "It's Not the Thought that Counts: A Field Experiment on Gift Exchange and Giving at a Public University," NBER Working Papers 22867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Ben Grodeck & Philip J. Grossman, 2022. "Thumbs Down for the Thumbs Up Emoji: Experimental Evidence on the Impact of Instantaneous Positive Reinforcement on Charitable Giving," Monash Economics Working Papers 2022-01, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    7. Jane & Tan & Yong Tan, 2022. "Crypto Rewards in Fundraising: Evidence from Crypto Donations to Ukraine," Papers 2207.07490, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2022.
    8. Ernan Haruvy & Peter Popkowski Leszczyc & Greg Allenby & Russell Belk & Catherine Eckel & Robert Fisher & Sherry Xin Li & John A. List & Yu Ma & Yu Wang, 2020. "Fundraising design: key issues, unifying framework, and open puzzles," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 371-380, December.
    9. Tobias Cagala & Ulrich Glogowsky & Johannes Rincke & Anthony Strittmatter, 2021. "Optimal Targeting in Fundraising: A Causal Machine-Learning Approach," Papers 2103.10251, arXiv.org, revised Sep 2021.
    10. K. Sudhir & Hortense Fong & Subroto Roy, 2019. "Greedy or Grateful? Asking for More when Thanking Donors," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2183R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Mar 2021.
    11. Carpenter, Jeffrey, 2017. "The sequencing of gift exchange: A field trial," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 26-31.
    12. Indranil Goswami & Oleg Urminsky, 2018. "No Substitute for the Real Thing: The Importance of In-Context Field Experiments In Fundraising," Natural Field Experiments 00660, The Field Experiments Website.
    13. Katina Kulow & Thomas Kramer, 2016. "In Pursuit of Good Karma: When Charitable Appeals to Do Right Go Wrong," Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Research Inc., vol. 43(2), pages 334-353.
    14. K. Sudhir & Hortense Fong & Subroto Roy, 2014. "Greedy or Grateful" Asking for More when Thanking Donors," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2183, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    15. Tobias Cagala & Ulrich Glogowsky & Johannes Rincke & Anthony Strittmatter, 2021. "Optimal Targeting in Fundraising: A Machine-Learning Approach," Economics working papers 2021-08, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    16. Chang, Chia-Chi & Chen, Po-Yu, 2019. "Which maximizes donations: Charitable giving as an incentive or incentives for charitable giving?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 65-75.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Donations; Gifts; Incentives; Charitable giving; Altruism; Crowding out;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing

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