Charitable Giving and Nonbinding Contribution-Level Suggestions: Evidence from a Field Experiment

25 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2014

See all articles by Maja Adena

Maja Adena

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Steffen Huck

University College London - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Imran Rasul

University College London - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2014

Abstract

When asking for donations, charitable organizations often suggest a potential amount to contribute. However, the evidence concerning the effects of such suggestions is scarce and inconsistent. Unlike the majority of earlier studies concerned with small-money solicitations, we examine the effect of larger nonbinding suggestions in the context of middle-range donations which are relevant in practice. In a randomized field experiment conducted in conjunction with the Bavarian State Opera, opera visitors received solicitation letters asking to support a social youth project organized by the opera house. The three different treatments were: no suggestion and suggestions of €100 and €200, respectively. Both suggestions were larger than average and median donations in this context. We find that suggested contribution levels substantially influence the distribution of donations actually received. The mean amounts given increase significantly if a suggestion is made. The increase is stronger in the €200 treatment. On the other hand, the participation rate decreases if a suggestion is made. Overall, the returns from the campaign increase non-significantly when a suggestion is made. The solicitation was repeated a year later, without any suggestion. There is weak evidence that suggestions have a long-term effect on individual contribution-level decisions.

Keywords: charitable giving, field experiment, reference point

JEL Classification: C93, D12, D64

Suggested Citation

Adena, Maja and Huck, Steffen and Rasul, Imran, Charitable Giving and Nonbinding Contribution-Level Suggestions: Evidence from a Field Experiment (February 2014). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP9841. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2444862

Maja Adena (Contact Author)

WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin, 10785
Germany

Steffen Huck

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
+44 207 679 5895 (Phone)
+44 207 916 2774 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctpshu/

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Imran Rasul

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
+44 20 7679 5853 (Phone)
+44 20 7916 2775 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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