NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Toward an Understanding of why Suggestions Work in Charitable Fundraising: Theory and Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

James T. Edwards, John A. List

NBER Working Paper No. 19665
Issued in November 2013
NBER Program(s):   EEE   PE

People respond to those who ask. Within the charitable fundraising community, the power of the ask represents the backbone of most fundraising strategies. Despite this, the optimal design of communication strategies has received less formal attention. For their part, economists have recently explored how communication affects empathy, altruism, and giving rates to charities. Our study takes a step back from this literature to examine how suggestions-a direct ask for a certain amount of money-affect giving rates. We find that our suggestion amounts affect both the intensive and extensive margins: more people give and they tend to give the suggested amount. Resulting insights help us understand why people give, why messages work, and deepen practitioners' understanding of how to use messages to leverage more giving.

download in pdf format
   (684 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19665

Published: Edwards, James T. & List, John A., 2014. "Toward an understanding of why suggestions work in charitable fundraising: Theory and evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 1-13. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Al-Ubaydli and List w19666 On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With A Response To Camerer
Lerner and Tirole w19664 Standard-Essential Patents
Barrow and Rouse w19351 Financial Incentives and Educational Investment: The Impact of Performance-Based Scholarships on Student Time Use
Banerjee, Meng, Porzio, and Qian w20050 Aggregate Fertility and Household Savings: A General Equilibrium Analysis using Micro Data
Iyer, Meng, Qian, and Zhao w19733 Economic Transition and Private-Sector Labor Demand: Evidence from Urban China
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us