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A Glimpse into the World of High Capacity Givers: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign

Author

Listed:
  • Tova Levin
  • Steven D. Levitt
  • John A. List

Abstract

The wealthiest 10% of donors now give 90% of charitable dollars in the U.S., but little is known about what motivates them. Using a natural field experiment on over 5,000 high capacity donors, we find persistence in giving patterns, that signals of program quality influence giving, and that the price of giving is not unduly important. Unlike typical small donors, our givers respond only on the intensive margin, and often with a longer time lag. Our study highlights the value to practitioners of partnering with academics, as our intervention has generated $30 million in incremental donations to the University.

Suggested Citation

  • Tova Levin & Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2016. "A Glimpse into the World of High Capacity Givers: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," NBER Working Papers 22099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22099
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John List & Azeem Shaikh & Yang Xu, 2016. "Multiple Hypothesis Testing in Experimental Economics," Artefactual Field Experiments 00402, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. 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.
    3. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 215-233, February.
    4. Ori Heffetz & John A. List, 2014. "Is The Endowment Effect An Expectations Effect?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(5), pages 1396-1422, October.
    5. 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.
    6. John A. List, 2011. "The Market for Charitable Giving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 157-180, Spring.
    7. Jonathan E. Alevy & Craig E. Landry & John A. List, 2011. "Field Experiments on Anchoring of Economic Valuations," Working Papers 2011-02, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
    8. Catherine C. Eckel & David H. Herberich & Jonathan Meer, 2016. "It's Not the Thought that Counts: A Field Experiment on Gift Exchange and Giving at a Public University," NBER Working Papers 22867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jonathan E. Alevy & Craig E. Landry & John A. List, 2015. "Field Experiments On The Anchoring Of Economic Valuations," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(3), pages 1522-1538, July.
    10. Zacharias Maniadis & Fabio Tufano & John A. List, 2014. "One Swallow Doesn't Make a Summer: New Evidence on Anchoring Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(1), pages 277-290, January.
    11. Bruno Frey & Stephan Meier, 2004. "In a field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00243, The Field Experiments Website.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Cristina Rossi & Dario Sansone & Costanza Torricelli & Arthur van Soest, 2018. "Household Preferences for Socially Responsible Investments," Centro Studi di Banca e Finanza (CEFIN) (Center for Studies in Banking and Finance) 0066, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".
    2. Maria Cristina Rossi & Dario Sansone & Costanza Torricelli & Arthur van Soest, 2018. "Household Preferences for Socially Responsible Investments," Centro Studi di Banca e Finanza (CEFIN) (Center for Studies in Banking and Finance) 18021, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

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