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Bidding to Give in the Field: Door-to-Door Fundraisers Had it Right from the Start

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper No. 11-070/1

37 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2011  

Sander Onderstal

University of Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute

Arthur J. H. C. Schram

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB); Tinbergen Institute

Adriaan R. Soetevent

University of Groningen; Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: April 15, 2011

Abstract

In a door-to-door fundraising field experiment, we study the impact of fundraising mechanisms on charitable giving. We approached about 4500 households, each participating in either an all-pay auction, a lottery, a non-anonymous voluntary contribution mechanism (VCM), or an anonymous VCM. In contrast to the VCMs, households competed for a prize in the all-pay auction and the lottery. Although the all-pay auction is the superior fundraising mechanism both in theory and in the laboratory, it raised the lowest revenue per household in the field. Our experiment reveals two potential explanations for this anomaly. First, participation in the all-pay auction is substantially lower than in the other mechanisms while the average donation for those who contribute is only slightly higher. We explore various explanations for this lower participation and favor one that argues that competition in the all-pay mechanism crowds out intrinsic motivations to contribute. Second, the non-anonymity may have a negative effect: conditional on donating, households contribute less in the non-anonymous VCM than in the anonymous VCM. Among the non-anonymous mechanisms, the lottery raises the largest revenue per household. Notably, the method that scored best, the anonymous VCM, is the one most used by door-to-door fund raisers in the Netherlands.

Keywords: Charitable Fundraising, Field Experiment, Auction, Lottery, Voluntary Contribution Mechanism

JEL Classification: C93, D44, D64, H41

Suggested Citation

Onderstal, Sander and Schram, Arthur J. H. C. and Soetevent, Adriaan R., Bidding to Give in the Field: Door-to-Door Fundraisers Had it Right from the Start (April 15, 2011). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper No. 11-070/1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1813807 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1813807

Sander Onderstal (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Arthur J. H. C. Schram

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) ( email )

Roetersstraat 18
CREED
Amsterdam 1018 WB
Netherlands
+31 (0)20 525 4293 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.fee.uva.nl/creed/PEOPLE/Arthurs.htm

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Adriaan R. Soetevent

University of Groningen ( email )

P.O. Box 800
9700 AV Groningen
Netherlands
++ 31 50 363 7018 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.soetevent.com

Tinbergen Institute

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

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