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The Impact of a Surprise Donation Ask

Author

Listed:
  • Christine L. Exley

    (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit)

  • Ragan Petrie

    (Department of Economics, Texas A&M University)

Abstract

Individuals frequently exploit "flexibility" built into decision environments to give less. They use subjectivity to justify options benefiting themselves over others, they avoid information that may encourage them to give, and they avoid the ask itself. In this paper, we examine whether a reluctance to give may arise even when such explicit flexibility is absent. We investigate whether merely alerting individuals to an upcoming prosocial ask ? that is neither avoided nor contains subjective components ? results in reduced prosocial behavior. That is, we investigate whether individuals use time to quickly find or develop their own flexibility and excuses not to give. Results from a field study and complementary online study provide a clear answer: yes.

Suggested Citation

  • Christine L. Exley & Ragan Petrie, 2016. "The Impact of a Surprise Donation Ask," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-101, Harvard Business School, revised Dec 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:16-101
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    Cited by:

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    2. Adena, Maja & Harke, Julian, 2022. "COVID-19 and pro-sociality: How do donors respond to local pandemic severity, increased salience, and media coverage?," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 824-844.
    3. Sasaki, Shusaku, 2019. "Majority size and conformity behavior in charitable giving: Field evidence from a donation-based crowdfunding platform in Japan," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 36-51.
    4. Christine L. Exley, 2020. "Using Charity Performance Metrics as an Excuse Not to Give," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(2), pages 553-563, February.
    5. Stephanie A. Heger & Robert Slonim & Ellen Garbarino & Carmen Wang & Daniel Waller, 2020. "Redesigning the Market for Volunteers: A Donor Registry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(8), pages 3528-3541, August.
    6. Fosgaard, Toke R. & Soetevent, Adriaan, 2018. "Promises Undone," Research Report 2018006, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    7. 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.
    8. Toke R. Fosgaard & Adriaan (A.R.) Soetevent, 2018. "Promises Undone: How Committed Pledges Impact Donations to Charity," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-044/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Sautua, Santiago I., 2022. "Donation requests following a pay rise," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
    10. Lata Gangadharan & Philip J. Grossman & Nina Xue, 2022. "Identifying self-image concerns from motivated beliefs: Does it matter how and whom you ask?," Monash Economics Working Papers 2022-05, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    11. Michael Haylock & Patrick Kampkötter & Mario Macis & Jürgen Sauter & Susanne Seitz & Robert Slonim & Daniel Wiesen & Alexander H. Schmidt, 2022. "Improving the Availability of Unrelated Stem Cell Donors: Evidence from a Major Donor Registry," NBER Working Papers 29857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Maximilian Späth, 2021. "It’s me again… Ask Avoidance and the Dynamics of Charitable Giving," CEPA Discussion Papers 38, Center for Economic Policy Analysis.
    13. David Klinowski, 2021. "Reluctant donors and their reactions to social information," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 24(2), pages 515-535, June.
    14. Oliver P. Hauser & Francesca Gino & Michael I. Norton, 2018. "Budging beliefs, nudging behaviour," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 17(1), pages 15-26, November.
    15. Lata Gangadharan & Philip J. Grossman & Nina Xue, 2021. "Identifying self-image concerns from motivated beliefs: Does it matter how and whom you ask?," Monash Economics Working Papers 2021-17, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    16. Christine L. Exley & Judd B. Kessler, 2017. "Motivated Errors," Harvard Business School Working Papers 18-017, Harvard Business School, revised May 2018.
    17. Judd B. Kessler & Katherine L. Milkman & C. Yiwei Zhang, 2019. "Getting the Rich and Powerful to Give," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(9), pages 4049-4062, September.
    18. Björn Bartling & Yagiz Özdemir, 2017. "The limits to moral erosion in markets: social norms and the replacement excuse," ECON - Working Papers 263, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    19. Unfried, Kerstin & Ibañez Diaz, Marcela & Restrepo-Plazaz, Lina Maria, 2022. "Discrimination in post-conflict settings: Experimental evidence from Colombia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 154(C).
    20. James Andreoni & Marta Serra-Garcia, 2019. "The Pledging Puzzle: How Can Revocable Promises Increase Charitable Giving," CESifo Working Paper Series 7965, CESifo.
    21. Linda Thunström, 2020. "Thoughts and prayers – Do they crowd out charity donations?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 60(1), pages 1-28, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    charitable giving; prosocial behavior; self-serving biases; excuses;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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