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

15 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2018 Last revised: 20 Jun 2019

See all articles by Dean Karlan

Dean Karlan

Northwestern University

John A. List

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

Date Written: June 1, 2019

Abstract

We conducted a fundraising experiment with an international development nonprofit organization in which a matching grant offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation raised more funds than one from an anonymous donor. The effect is strongest for solicitees who previously gave to other poverty-oriented charities. With supporting evidence from two other field experiments and one survey, we argue this is consistent with a quality signal mechanism. Alternative mechanisms are discussed, and not ruled out. The results help inform theories about charitable giving decision-making and provide guidance to organizations and large donors on how to overcome information asymmetries hindering fundraising.

Keywords: public goods, charitable fundraising, asymmetric information, matching grant

JEL Classification: D12, D71, D82, H41, O12

Suggested Citation

Karlan, Dean and List, John A., How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods? (June 1, 2019). Buffett Institute Global Poverty Research Lab Working Paper No. 18-106. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3135477 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3135477

Dean Karlan (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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