NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Intuitive Donating: Testing One-Line Solicitations for $1 Donations in a Large Online Experiment

Samantha Horn, Dean Karlan

NBER Working Paper No. 24327
Issued in February 2018
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

We partnered with a large online auction website to test differing messages’ effects on the decision to donate to charity at checkout. Our setting, where impulsive decisions are likely to be driving donations, allows us to evaluate intuitive responses to messages prompting a donation. We find that shorter messages, matching grants, and descriptions of a charity’s mission increase both the likelihood that a user donates, as well as the average amount donated. Conversely, displaying the impact of the donated amount, the popularity of the charity, and that a charity uses scientific evidence do not improve donation rates. These results contribute to our understanding of how framing requests drives the decision to donate and are practically relevant to the many retail sites which promote giving at point of sale.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24327

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