Getting the Rich and Powerful to Give
38 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017 Last revised: 30 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 5, 2018
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
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