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Fundraising through online social networks: A field experiment on peer-to-peer solicitation

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  • Castillo, Marco
  • Petrie, Ragan
  • Wardell, Clarence

Abstract

Two main reasons why people donate to charity are that they have been asked and asked by someone they care about. One would therefore expect that charitable organizations could benefit from peer-to-peer fundraising if they were able to persuade donors to do so for them. However, little is known on the costs and benefits of asking donors to fundraise. We investigate this by implementing a field experiment embedded in an online giving organization's web page. In our experiment, donors who have completed an online transaction were randomly asked to share having donated by posting on their Facebook (FB) wall or by sending a private message to a friend on FB. To further explore the impact of incentives on the willingness to fundraise, donors were also assigned to one of three treatments in which the organization added either $0, $1 or $5 in the donor's name in exchange for sharing the information. We have several findings: (1) Donors respond to incentives: larger add-on donations increase the willingness to post having made a donation. (2) Nuisance costs may be important: willingness to post is over two times higher among those already logged into FB. (3) The type of ask matters: willingness to post via one's wall or via a private message is different. (4) There are benefits to incentivizing peer-to-peer fundraising in increased new donations.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:114:y:2014:i:c:p:29-35
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.01.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Paskalev, Zdravko & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2017. "A theory of outsourced fundraising: Why dollars turn into “Pennies for Charity”," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 1-18.
    2. Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario & Mele, Angelo, 2014. "Viral Altruism? Generosity and Social Contagion in Online Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 8171, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Maja Adena & Steffen Huck, 2020. "Online Fundraising, Self-Image, and the Long-Term Impact of Ask Avoidance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(2), pages 722-743, February.
    4. repec:bri:cmpowp:13/327 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. John A. List & James J. Murphy & Michael K. Price & Alexander G. James, 2019. "Do Appeals to Donor Benefits Raise More Money than Appeals to Recipient Benefits? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment with Pick.Click.Give," NBER Working Papers 26559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Michalis Drouvelis & Benjamin M. Marx, 2021. "Can Charitable Appeals Identify and Exploit Belief Heterogeneity?," CESifo Working Paper Series 8855, CESifo.
    7. Naroditskiy, Victor & Stein, Sebastian & Tonin, Mirco & Tran-Thanh, Long & Vlassopoulos, Michael & Jennings, Nicholas R., 2014. "Referral Incentives in Crowdfunding," IZA Discussion Papers 7995, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Scharf, Kimberley & Smith, Sarah, 2014. "Relational Warm Glow and Giving in Social Groups," CEPR Discussion Papers 10051, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Name-Correa, Alvaro J. & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2016. "“Giving” in to social pressure," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 99-116.
    10. Michalis Drouvelis & Benjamin M. Marx, 2021. "Dimensions of donation preferences: the structure of peer and income effects," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 24(1), pages 274-302, March.
    11. Araceli Galiano-Coronil & Juan José MierTerán-Franco, 2019. "The Use of Social Digital Networks by NGDO from a Social Marketing Perspective," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(6), pages 1-23, June.
    12. Exley, Christine L. & Petrie, Ragan, 2018. "The impact of a surprise donation ask," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 152-167.
    13. Cason, Timothy N. & Zubrickas, Robertas, 2017. "Enhancing fundraising with refund bonuses," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 218-233.
    14. Peters, Jörg & Langbein, Jörg & Roberts, Gareth, 2016. "Policy evaluation, randomized controlled trials, and external validity—A systematic review," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 51-54.
    15. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2016. "Online fundraising, self-deception, and the long-term impact of ask avoidance," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2016-306, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    16. Christine L. Exley, 2015. "Excusing Selfishness in Charitable Giving: The Role of Risk," Discussion Papers 15-013, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    17. Adena, Maja & Hager, Anselm, 2020. "Does online fundraising increase charitable giving? A nation-wide field experiment on Facebook," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2020-302, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    18. Shneor, Rotem & Munim, Ziaul Haque, 2019. "Reward crowdfunding contribution as planned behaviour: An extended framework," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 56-70.
    19. David Klinowski, 2021. "Reluctant donors and their reactions to social information," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 24(2), pages 515-535, June.
    20. Filo, Kevin & Lock, Daniel & Karg, Adam, 2015. "Sport and social media research: A review," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 166-181.
    21. Jiang, Bixia & Bai, Xu & You, Weijia & Fan, Kun, 2021. "Where and how to launch your forestry crowdfunding campaign? Evidence from China," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fundraising; Social network; Field experiment; Online giving;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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