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Now or never! The effect of deadlines on charitable giving: Evidence from a natural field experiment

Author

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  • Mette Trier Damgaard

    () (Department of Economics and Business, Aarhus University, Denmark)

  • Christina Gravert

    () (Department of Economics and Business, Aarhus University, Denmark)

Abstract

This study designs two field experiments to estimate the effect of binding deadlines and reminders on charitable giving. We sent out 62,000 e-mails and text messages to prior donors of a large Danish charity while varying the length of the deadline and whether they received a reminder. We find that a reminder increases both the likelihood of making a donation and the amount donated. We find no effect of the deadlines on the propensity to give. Instead we observe a “now-or-never” effect; either donations are made immediately or not at all. In line with the “avoiding-the-ask” theory, both shorter deadlines and the reminder increase the number of requests to be taken off the mailing list.

Suggested Citation

  • Mette Trier Damgaard & Christina Gravert, 2014. "Now or never! The effect of deadlines on charitable giving: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Economics Working Papers 2014-03, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
  • Handle: RePEc:aah:aarhec:2014-03
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    File URL: ftp://ftp.econ.au.dk/afn/wp/14/wp14_03.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    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. Karlan, Dean & List, John A. & Shafir, Eldar, 2011. "Small matches and charitable giving: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 344-350, June.
    4. Huck, Steffen & Rasul, Imran, 2011. "Matched fundraising: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 351-362.
    5. repec:feb:framed:0087 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
    7. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2011. "Forgetting We Forget: Overconfidence And Memory," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 43-60, February.
    8. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 1-56.
    9. Gilbert, Ben & Graff Zivin, Joshua, 2014. "Dynamic salience with intermittent billing: Evidence from smart electricity meters," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 176-190.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Trier Damgaard, Mette & Gravert, Christina, 2016. "The hidden costs of nudging: Experimental evidence from reminders in fundraising," Working Papers in Economics 650, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    2. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2014. "On the Interaction of Memory and Procrastination: Implications for Reminders," NBER Working Papers 20381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Emma Boswell Dean & Frank Schilbach & Heather Schofield, 2017. "Poverty and Cognitive Function," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Poverty Traps National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Knowles, Stephen & Servátka, Maroš & Sullivan, Trudy, 2016. "Deadlines, Procrastination, and Inattention in Charitable Tasks: A Field Experiment," MPRA Paper 69621, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Stephen Knowles & Maroš Servátka & Trudy Sullivan, 2014. "Deadlines, Procrastination, and Inattention in Charitable Giving: A Field Experiment," Working Papers 1501, University of Otago, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2014.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Field experiment; charitable contributions; time preferences; avoiding-the-ask;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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