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

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  • Dean Karlan
  • John List

Abstract

We conducted two matching grant experiments with an international development charity. The primary experiment finds that a matching grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation raises more funds than a matching grant from an anonymous donor. The effect persists, and is strongest for donors who previously gave to other poverty-oriented charities. Combining these insights with survey results, we conclude that our matching gift primarily works through a quality signal mechanism. Overall, the results help to clarify why people give to charity, what models help to describe those motivations, and how practitioners can leverage economics to increase their fundraising potential.

Suggested Citation

  • Dean Karlan & John List, 2016. "How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?," Natural Field Experiments 00411, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00411
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    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. Cagala, Tobias & Glogowsky, Ulrich & Grimm, Veronika & Rincke, Johannes & Tuset-Cueva, Amanda, 2019. "Rent extraction and prosocial behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 709-723.
    3. Ebeling, Felix & Feldhaus, Christoph & Fendrich, Johannes, 2017. "A field experiment on the impact of a prior donor’s social status on subsequent charitable giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 124-133.
    4. Horn, Samantha & Karlan, Dean S., 2018. "Intuitive Donating: Testing One-Line Solicitations for $1 Donations in a Large Online Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 12714, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Bastian Hartmann & Martin Werding, 2012. "Donating Time or Money: Are they Substitutes or Complements?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3835, CESifo.
    6. 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.
    7. Jack, B. Kelsey & Recalde, María 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.
    8. Sadoff, Sally & Samek, Anya, 2019. "The effect of recipient contribution requirements on support for social programs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 1-16.
    9. Johanna Catherine Maclean & John Buckell, 2021. "Information and sin goods: Experimental evidence on cigarettes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(2), pages 289-310, February.
    10. Johanna Catherine Maclean & John Buckell & Joachim Marti, 2019. "Information Source and Cigarettes: Experimental Evidence on the Messenger Effect," NBER Working Papers 25632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Indranil Goswami & Indranil Goswami, 2020. "No Substitute for the Real Thing: The Importance of In-Context Field Experiments in Fundraising," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(6), pages 1052-1070, November.
    12. Indranil Goswami & Oleg Urminsky, 2018. "No Substitute for the Real Thing: The Importance of In-Context Field Experiments In Fundraising," Natural Field Experiments 00660, The Field Experiments Website.

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    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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