How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?

20 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2012 Last revised: 10 Apr 2012

See all articles by Dean S. Karlan

Dean S. Karlan

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; Yale University; Innovations for Poverty Action; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2012

Abstract

We conducted two matching grant experiments with an international development charity. The primary experiment finds that a matching grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation raises more funds than a matching grant from an anonymous donor. The effect persists, and is strongest for donors who previously gave to other poverty-oriented charities. Combining these insights with survey results, we conclude that our matching gift primarily works through a quality signal mechanism. Overall, the results help to clarify why people give to charity, what models help to describe those motivations, and how practitioners can leverage economics to increase their fundraising potential.

Suggested Citation

Karlan, Dean S. and List, John A., How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods? (March 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w17954, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2031962

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