(Un)Informed Charitable Giving
31 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 12, 2011
Evidence suggests that donors have little demand for information before giving to charity. To understand this behavior and its policy implications, we present a model in which each individual can acquire costly information about her true value of charity. We observe that an individual who considers giving less is less likely to become informed; and indeed, an uninformed donor is, on average, less generous than an informed one. This implies that since the free-rider problem in giving worsens in a larger population, the percentage of informed givers becomes vanishingly small, leaving the total expected donations strictly below its highest level to be reached by a fully informed population. We show that while a direct government grant to the charity causes severe crowding-out by discouraging information acquisition, a matching grant increases donations by encouraging it. We further show that a “warm-glow” motive for giving does not necessarily weaken incentives to be informed, and that a (first-order) stochastic increase in true values for charity may actually decrease donations.
Keywords: charitable giving, search cost, value of information, crowding-out, warm-glow
JEL Classification: H00, H41, D82, D83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation