Peer effects in charitable giving: Evidence from the (running) field
There is a widespread belief that peer effects are important in charitable giving, but surprisingly little evidence on how donors respond to their peers. We analyse a unique dataset of donations to online fundraising pages to provide evidence on the direction and magnitude of peer effects – we find that a £10 increase in the mean of past donations increases giving by £3.50, on average. We also explore potential explanations for why peers matter. We find no evidence that donations provide a signal of charity quality, nor any role for fundraising targets. Our preferred explanation is that donors benchmark themselves against the distribution of donations from their peers.
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