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The Role of Seed Money and Threshold Size in Optimizing Fundraising Campaigns: Past Behavior Matters!

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  • G. A. VERHAERT
  • D. VAN DEN POEL

    ()

Abstract

Fundraising appeals often announce that some funds have already been raised in order to reach a certain threshold. This article reports results from a field experiment examining the role of seed money (i.e., no, 50%, and 67%) in combination with threshold size (i.e., low versus high) in fundraising appeals across different targets (i.e., prospects, low fidelity donors, and high fidelity donors). Based on a 2x3x3 between-subjects design we investigate charitable behavior of 25,617 households. Findings reveal a novel qualification of using seed contributions as well as the necessity of a communication differentiation by considering past behavior. We show that seed money works well if the threshold is high but with a low threshold it could have a baleful influence. More specifically, in campaigns targeted at prospects and low fidelity donors, the announcement of seed money increases donations regardless of the threshold level. However, in campaigns targeted at high fidelity donors, seed money is an effective strategy only when the threshold is rather high.

Suggested Citation

  • G. A. Verhaert & D. Van Den Poel, 2012. "The Role of Seed Money and Threshold Size in Optimizing Fundraising Campaigns: Past Behavior Matters!," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 12/815, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  • Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:12/815
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    File URL: http://wps-feb.ugent.be/Papers/wp_12_815.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daniel Rondeau & John List, 2008. "Matching and challenge gifts to charity: evidence from laboratory and natural field experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(3), pages 253-267, September.
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    3. John List, 2008. "Introduction to field experiments in economics with applications to the economics of charity," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(3), pages 203-212, September.
    4. 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.
    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. 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.
    7. Croson, Rachel & Fatas, Enrique & Neugebauer, Tibor, 2005. "Reciprocity, matching and conditional cooperation in two public goods games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 95-101, April.
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    9. Verhaert, Griet A. & Van den Poel, Dirk, 2011. "Empathy as added value in predicting donation behavior," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(12), pages 1288-1295.
    10. Vesterlund, Lise, 2003. "The informational value of sequential fundraising," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 627-657, March.
    11. Roland T. Rust & Peter C. Verhoef, 2005. "Optimizing the Marketing Interventions Mix in Intermediate-Term CRM," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(3), pages 477-489, December.
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    15. Jonker, J-J. & Piersma, N. & Van den Poel, D., 2002. "Joint optimization of customer segmentation and marketing policy to maximize long-term profitability," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI 2002-18, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Charitable giving; Differentiated communication; Field experiments; Fundraising; Seed money; Threshold size;

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