Getting the Rich and Powerful to Give

38 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017 Last revised: 30 Jun 2018

Judd B. Kessler

University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department

Katherine L. Milkman

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

C. Yiwei Zhang

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Date Written: June 5, 2018

Abstract

What motivates the rich and powerful to exhibit generosity? We explore this important question in a large field experiment. We solicit donations from 32,174 alumni of an Ivy League university, including thousands of rich and powerful alumni. Consistent with past psychology research, we find that the rich and powerful respond dramatically, and differently than others, to being given a sense of agency over the use of donated funds. Gifts from rich and powerful alumni increase by 100-350 percent when they are given a sense of agency. This response arises primarily on the intensive margin with no effect on the likelihood of donating. Results suggest that motivating the rich and powerful to act may require tailored interventions.

Keywords: charitable giving, agency, natural field experiment, wealth

Suggested Citation

Kessler, Judd B. and Milkman, Katherine L. and Zhang, C. Yiwei, Getting the Rich and Powerful to Give (June 5, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2994367 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2994367

Judd B. Kessler

University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6372
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://bepp.wharton.upenn.edu/profile/1671/

Katherine L. Milkman

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Christina Zhang (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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