26 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2014 Last revised: 30 Jul 2015
Date Written: June 2015
We test how donors respond to new information about a charity’s effectiveness. Freedom from Hunger implemented a test of its direct marketing solicitations, varying letters by whether they include a discussion of their program’s impact as measured by scientific research. The base script, used for both treatment and control, included a standard qualitative story about an individual beneficiary. Adding scientific impact information has no effect on average likelihood of giving or average gift amount. However, we find important heterogeneity: large prior donors both are more likely to give and also give more, whereas small prior donors are less likely to give. This pattern is consistent with two different types of donors: warm glow donors who respond negatively to analytical effectiveness information, and altruism donors who respond positively to such information.
Keywords: aid effectiveness, charitable fundraising, warm glow, pure altruism
JEL Classification: D64, H41, L31, O12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Karlan, Dean S. and Wood, Daniel H., The Effect of Effectiveness: Donor Response to Aid Effectiveness in a Direct Mail Fundraising Experiment (June 2015). Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 1038; Yale Economics Department Working Paper No. 130. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2421943 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2421943