NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Tova Levin, Steven D. Levitt, John A. List

NBER Working Paper No. 22099
Issued in March 2016
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22099

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