Toward a Theory of Charitable Fund-Raising

Posted: 11 Nov 1998

See all articles by James Andreoni

James Andreoni

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)


Private providers of public goods, such as charities, invariably enlist fund-raisers to organize and collect contributions. Common in charitable fund-raising is seed money, either from a government grant or from a group of "leadership givers," that launches the fund drive and generates additional gifts. This paper provides a theoretical basis for fund-raisers and seeds to charity. The primary assumption is that there is a range of increasing returns at low levels of provision of the public good. It is shown that fund-raisers have a natural and important role, and that sometimes only a small amount of seed money can grow into a substantial charity.

JEL Classification: H41, H49

Suggested Citation

Andreoni, James, Toward a Theory of Charitable Fund-Raising. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 106, No. 6, December 1998. Available at SSRN:

James Andreoni (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States


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