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Charitable Giving and Nonbinding Contribution-level Suggestions: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Adena, Maja
  • Huck, Steffen
  • Rasul, Imran

Abstract

When asking for donations, charitable organizations often suggest a potential amount to contribute. However, the evidence concerning the effects of such suggestions is scarce and inconsistent. Unlike the majority of earlier studies concerned with small-money solicitations, we examine the effect of larger nonbinding suggestions in the context of middle-range donations which are relevant in practice. In a randomized field experiment conducted in conjunction with the Bavarian State Opera, opera visitors received solicitation letters asking to support a social youth project organized by the opera house. The three different treatments were: no suggestion and suggestions of €100 and €200, respectively. Both suggestions were larger than average and median donations in this context. We find that suggested contribution levels substantially influence the distribution of donations actually received. The mean amounts given increase significantly if a suggestion is made. The increase is stronger in the €200 treatment. On the other hand, the participation rate decreases if a suggestion is made. Overall, the returns from the campaign increase non-significantly when a suggestion is made. The solicitation was repeated a year later, without any suggestion. There is weak evidence that suggestions have a long-term effect on individual contribution-level decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen & Rasul, Imran, 2014. "Charitable Giving and Nonbinding Contribution-level Suggestions: Evidence from a Field Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 9841, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9841
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Briers, Barbara & Pandelaere, Mario & Warlop, Luk, 2007. "Adding exchange to charity: A reference price explanation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 15-30, January.
    2. Barbara Briers & M. Pandelaere & L. Warlop, 2007. "Adding exchange to charity: a reference price explanation," Post-Print halshs-00126759, HAL.
    3. Desmet, Pierre & Feinberg, Fred M., 2003. "Ask and ye shall receive: The effect of the appeals scale on consumers' donation behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 349-376, June.
    4. Jen Shang & Rachel Croson, 2009. "A Field Experiment in Charitable Contribution: The Impact of Social Information on the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1422-1439, October.
    5. Briers, B.M.E. & Pandelaere, M. & Warlop, L., 2007. "Adding exchange to charity : A reference price explanation," Other publications TiSEM 7b0069ad-8251-4e7d-82ba-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    6. repec:dau:papers:123456789/1281 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Steffen Altmann & Armin Falk & Paul Heidhues & Rajshri Jayaraman, 2014. "Defaults and Donations: Evidence from a Field Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 5118, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. 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.
    3. Altmann, Steffen & Traxler, Christian, 2014. "Nudges at the dentist," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 19-38.
    4. Maja Adena, 2016. "Nonprofit organizations, free media and donor’s trust," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 118(3), pages 239-263, July.
    5. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2018. "Online fundraising, self-image, and the long-term impact of ask avoidance," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2016-306r2, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    6. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2017. "Matching donations without crowding out? Some theoretical considerations, a field, and a lab experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 32-42.
    7. Adena, Maja & Alizade, Jeyhun & Bohner, Frauke & Harke, Julian & Mesters, Fabio, 2018. "Quality certifications for nonprofits, charitable giving, and donor's trust: experimental evidence," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2017-302r, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    8. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2017. "Narrow framing in charitable giving: Results from a two-period field experiment," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2017-305, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    9. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2016. "Online fundraising, self-image, and the long-term impact of ask avoidance," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145535, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2017. "Matching Donations Without Crowding Out?," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 16, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    11. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2016. "A field experiment on crowdfunding for a club good," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2016-308, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    12. Adena, Maja & Huck, Steffen, 2018. "Giving once, giving twice: A two-period field experiment on inter-temporal crowding in charitable giving," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2017-305r, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    13. Adena, Maja & Alizade, Jeyhun & Bohner, Frauke & Harke, Julian & Mesters, Fabio, 2017. "Quality certifications for nonprofits, charitable giving, and donor's trust: experimental evidence," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2017-302, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    charitable giving; field experiment; reference point;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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