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.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Acknowledgments

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.

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
Barrow and Rouse w19351 Financial Incentives and Educational Investment: The Impact of Performance-Based Scholarships on Student Time Use
Frisancho, Krishna, Lychagin, and Yavas w19663 Better Luck Next Time: Learning Through Retaking
Hanushek, Schwerdt, Wiederhold, and Woessmann w19762 Returns to Skills around the World: Evidence from PIAAC
Heckman and Kautz w19656 Fostering and Measuring Skills: Interventions That Improve Character and Cognition
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

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

Contact Us