A Glimpse into the World of High Capacity Givers: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign
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.
Special thanks to Joseph Buck and Jim Bruecker of the University of Chicago Booth Business School for allowing us access to their donor pool and for partnering on this project. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
As an employee of the Becker Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago, I received remuneration exceeding $5,000; as a current employee of Humana, I have received remuneration exceeding $5,000.