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Does price matter in charitable giving? Evidence from a large-scale natural field experiment

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  • Dean Karlan
  • John List

Abstract

We conducted a natural field experiment to explore the effect of price changes on charitable contributions. To operationalize our tests, we examine whether an offer to match contributions to a non-profit organization changes the likelihood and amount that an individual donates. Direct mail solicitations were sent to over 50,000 prior donors. We find that the match offer increases both the revenue per solicitation and the probability that an individual donates. While comparisons of the match treatments and the control group consistently reveal this pattern, larger match ratios (i.e., $3:$1 and $2:$1) relative to smaller match ratios ($1:$1) had no additional impact. The results have clear implications for practitioners in the design of fundraising campaigns and provide avenues for future empirical and theoretical work on charitable giving. Further, the data provide an interesting test of important methods used in cost-benefit analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Dean Karlan & John List, 2006. "Does price matter in charitable giving? Evidence from a large-scale natural field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00279, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00279
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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