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Matching and Challenge Gifts to Charity:Evidence from Laboratory and Natural Field Experiments

  • Daniel Rondeau
  • John A. List

This study designs a natural field experiment linked to a controlled laboratory experiment to examine the effectiveness of matching gifts and challenge gifts, two popular strategies used to secure a portion of the $200 billion annually given to charities. We find evidence that challenge gifts positively influence contributions in the field, but matching gifts do not. Methodologically, we find important similarities and dissimilarities between behavior in the lab and the field. Overall, our results have clear implications for fundraisers and provide avenues for future empirical and theoretical work on charitable giving.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13728.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13728.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
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Publication status: published as Daniel Rondeau & John List, 2008. "Matching and challenge gifts to charity: evidence from laboratory and natural field experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 253-267, September.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13728
Note: EEE PE
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  1. Imran Rasul & John List, 2010. "Field experiments in labor economics," Artefactual Field Experiments 00092, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. John List, 2006. "Field experiments: A bridge between lab and naturally occurring data," Artefactual Field Experiments 00083, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. 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.
  4. List, John A. & Rondeau, Daniel, 2003. "The impact of challenge gifts on charitable giving: an experimental investigation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 153-159, May.
  5. Rondeau, Daniel & Poe, Gregory L. & Schulze, William D., 2005. "VCM or PPM? A comparison of the performance of two voluntary public goods mechanisms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1581-1592, August.
  6. Cadsby, Charles Bram & Maynes, Elizabeth, 1999. "Voluntary provision of threshold public goods with continuous contributions: experimental evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 53-73, January.
  7. David Lucking-Reiley & John List, 2002. "The effects of seed money and refunds on charitable giving: Experimental evidence from a university capital campaign," Natural Field Experiments 00301, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  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 709-38, August.
  10. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2004. "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior: Testing "Conditional Cooperation" in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1717-1722, December.
  11. 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, 01.
  12. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2005. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 11611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  15. Bagnoli, Mark & Lipman, Barton L, 1989. "Provision of Public Goods: Fully Implementing the Core through Private Contributions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 583-601, October.
  16. Armin Falk, 2007. "Gift Exchange in the Field," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(5), pages 1501-1511, 09.
  17. Rondeau, Daniel & D. Schulze, William & Poe, Gregory L., 1999. "Voluntary revelation of the demand for public goods using a provision point mechanism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 455-470, June.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Vesterlund, Lise, 2003. "The informational value of sequential fundraising," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 627-657, March.
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