Promises Undone: How Committed Pledges Impact Donations to Charity

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2018/044-VII

39 Pages Posted: 18 May 2018

See all articles by Toke Fosgaard

Toke Fosgaard

University of Copenhagen - Institute of Food and Resource Economics

Adriaan R. Soetevent

University of Groningen; Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: May 3, 2018

Abstract

The declining use of cash in society urges charities to experiment with digital payment instruments in their off-line fund raising activities. Cash and card payments differ in that the latter do not require individuals to donate at the time of the ask, disconnecting the decision to give from the act of giving. Evidence shows that people who say they will give mostly do not follow through. Our theory shows that having people to formally state the intended amount may alleviate this problem. We report on a field experiment the results of which show that donors who have pledged an amount are indeed more likely to follow through. The firmer the pledge, the more closely the amount donated matches the amount that was pledged. 45% of all participants however refuses to pledge. This proves that donors value flexibility over commitment in intertemporal charitable giving.

Keywords: Charitable Fundraising, Field Experiment, Image Motivation

JEL Classification: C93, D64, D91, H41

Suggested Citation

Fosgaard, Toke and Soetevent, Adriaan R., Promises Undone: How Committed Pledges Impact Donations to Charity (May 3, 2018). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2018/044-VII. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3173585 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3173585

Toke Fosgaard (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Institute of Food and Resource Economics ( email )

Rolighedsvej 25
Copenhagen, 1958
Denmark

Adriaan R. Soetevent

University of Groningen ( email )

P.O. Box 800
9700 AV Groningen
Netherlands
++ 31 50 363 7018 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.soetevent.com

Tinbergen Institute

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

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