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The demand for products linked to public goods: Evidence from an online field experiment

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  • McManus, Brian
  • Bennet, Richard

Abstract

We conduct a field experiment at a nonprofit organization's online store to study how demand changes when consumers' purchases can generate revenue for a charitable cause. When purchases can trigger a small donation by an outside anonymous group, consumers respond strongly and apparently without regard for the specific conditions that trigger the donation. Consumers respond similarly when the outside donation requires a personal donation which consumers generally decline. When the outside donations are relatively large, however, consumers appear to pay close attention to the trigger conditions, and increase their purchases only where needed to generate the outside donation. Overall, increasing the salience of financial incentives weakens consumers' positive responses to the outside group's donation pledges. We also present evidence that the donation pledges have positive long-term effects on demand and may reduce price sensitivity.

Suggested Citation

  • McManus, Brian & Bennet, Richard, 2011. "The demand for products linked to public goods: Evidence from an online field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 403-415.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:5:p:403-415 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2010.04.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Duncan, Brian, 1999. "Modeling charitable contributions of time and money," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 213-242, May.
    2. Dean Karlan & John A. List, 2007. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1774-1793, December.
    3. Chen Yan & Li Xin & MacKie-Mason Jeffrey K, 2005. "Online Fund-Raising Mechanisms: A Field Experiment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-39, December.
    4. Stephan Meier, 2006. "Do subsidies increase charitable giving in the long run?: matching donations in a field experiment," Working Papers 06-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    5. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough or Don't Pay at All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810.
    6. Stephan Meier, 2007. "Do Subsidies Increase Charitable Giving in the Long Run? Matching Donations in a Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1203-1222, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Strahilevitz, Michal & Myers, John G, 1998. " Donations to Charity as Purchase Incentives: How Well They Work May Depend on What You Are Trying to Sell," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(4), pages 434-446, March.
    9. Daniel W. Elfenbein & Brian McManus, 2010. "A Greater Price for a Greater Good? Evidence That Consumers Pay More for Charity-Linked Products," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 28-60, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Marieta Valente, 2015. "Ethical Differentiation and Consumption in an Incentivized Market Experiment," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(1), pages 51-69, August.
    4. Pitschner, Stefan & Pitschner-Finn, Sebastian, 2014. "Non-profit differentials in crowd-based financing: Evidence from 50,000 campaigns," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(3), pages 391-394.
    5. Chien-Yu Lai & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price, 2017. "The Business of Business is Business: Why (Some) Firms Should Provide Public Goods when they Sell Private Goods," NBER Working Papers 23105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Schulz, Jonathan F. & Thiemann, Petra & Thöni, Christian, 2017. "Nudging Generosity: Choice Architecture and Cognitive Factors in Charitable Giving," IZA Discussion Papers 11097, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Jonathan Schulz & Petra Thiemann & Christian Thoeni, 2015. "Defaults in charitable giving," Discussion Papers 2015-06, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    8. John List & Michael Price, 2012. "Charitable Giving Around the World: Thoughts on How to Expand the Pie," Natural Field Experiments 00470, The Field Experiments Website.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Field experiments; Nonprofit organizations; Corporate social responsibility; E-commerce;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • L30 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - General
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility

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