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How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?

Author

Listed:
  • Karlan, Dean

    (Yale University and Innovations for Poverty Action)

  • List, Jonathan A.

    (University of Chicago)

Abstract

We develop a simple theory which formally describes how charities can resolve the information asymmetry problems faced by small donors by working with large donors to generate quality signals. To test the model, we conducted two large-scale natural field experiments. In the first experiment, a charity focusing on poverty reduction solicited donations from prior donors and either announced a matching grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, or made no mention of a match. In the second field experiment, the same charity sent direct mail solicitations to individuals who had not previously donated to the charity, and tested whether naming the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as the matching donor was more effective than not identifying the name of the matching donor. The first experiment demonstrates that the matching grant condition generates more and larger donations relative to no match. The second experiment shows that providing a credible quality signal by identifying the matching donor generates even more and larger donations than not naming the matching donor. Importantly, the treatment effects persist long after the matching period, and the quality signal is quite heterogeneous--the Gates' effect is much larger for prospective donors who had a record of giving to "poverty-oriented" charities. These two pieces of evidence support our model of quality signals as a key mechanism through which matching gifts inspire donors to give.

Suggested Citation

  • Karlan, Dean & List, Jonathan A., 2012. "How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?," Working Papers 101, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:101
    as

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    File URL: http://economics.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Working-Papers/wp100/ddp0101.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Omar Al-Ubaydli & John A. List, 2016. "Field Experiments in Markets," NBER Working Papers 22113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & John A. List, 2015. "Do Competitive Workplaces Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Job Entry Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 122-155.
    3. 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.
    4. Karlan, Dean & McConnell, Margaret A., 2014. "Hey look at me: The effect of giving circles on giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 402-412.
    5. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    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. Craig E. Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2006. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 747-782.
    8. John A. List, 2011. "The Market for Charitable Giving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 157-180, Spring.
    9. Randolph, William C, 1995. "Dynamic Income, Progressive Taxes, and the Timing of Charitable Contributions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 709-738, August.
    10. Omar Al-Ubaydli & Steffen Andersen & Uri Gneezy & John A. List, 2015. "Carrots That Look Like Sticks: Toward an Understanding of Multitasking Incentive Schemes," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 538-561, January.
    11. 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.
    12. Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & John A. List, 2010. "Do Competitive Work Places Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Gender Differences in Job-Entry Decisions," NBER Working Papers 16546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. James Andreoni, 2006. "Leadership Giving in Charitable Fund-Raising," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 8(1), pages 1-22, January.
    16. Gerald E. Auten & Holger Sieg & Charles T. Clotfelter, 2002. "Charitable Giving, Income, and Taxes: An Analysis of Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 371-382, March.
    17. Craig E. Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2010. "Is a Donor in Hand Better Than Two in the Bush? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 958-983, June.
    18. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
    19. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
    20. repec:feb:artefa:0090 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. List, John A. & Samek, Anya Savikhin, 2015. "The behavioralist as nutritionist: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve child food choice and consumption," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 135-146.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Named matching donor are best to elicit more donations
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-04-24 19:14:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Steffen Huck & Imran Rasul & Andrew Shephard, 2015. "Comparing Charitable Fundraising Schemes: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment and a Structural Model," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 326-369, May.
    2. repec:eee:joepsy:v:61:y:2017:i:c:p:124-133 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Samantha Horn & Dean Karlan, 2018. "Intuitive Donating: Testing One-Line Solicitations for $1 Donations in a Large Online Experiment," NBER Working Papers 24327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bastian Hartmann & Martin Werding, 2012. "Donating Time or Money: Are they Substitutes or Complements?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3835, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Lenka Fiala & Charles N. Noussair, 2017. "Charitable Giving, Emotions, And The Default Effect," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1792-1812, October.
    6. Jack, B. Kelsey & Recalde, MarĂ­a P., 2015. "Leadership and the voluntary provision of public goods: Field evidence from Bolivia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 80-93.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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