Media Coverage and Charitable Giving after the 2004 Tsunami
Media coverage of humanitarian crises is widely believed to influence charitable giving, yet this assertion has received little empirical scrutiny. Using Internet donations after the 2004 tsunami as a case study, we show that media coverage of disasters has a dramatic impact on donations to relief agencies. An additional minute of nightly news coverage or an additional story in major newspapers raises donations by 17–21%, controlling for the time that has elapsed since the disaster, for tax considerations, and for weekends. Repeating the analysis using instrumental variables to account for simultaneity and omitted variable bias, we find that an additional minute of news coverage raises donations by about 2.5%, an effect that remains both economically and statistically significant. We also find evidence of donor fatigue as well as evidence that tax incentives are effective in increasing charitable donations.
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Volume (Year): 75 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
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