Micro-Giving: On the Use of Mobile Devices and Monetary Subsidies in Charitable Giving

39 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2018

See all articles by Dongwon Lee

Dongwon Lee

HKUST Business School

Anandasivam Gopal

Nanyang Business School

Dokyun Lee

Boston University - Questrom School of Business

Date Written: November 7, 2017


Mobile devices are increasingly being used by non-profits and charitable organizations as an alternative channel for philanthropy. Specifically, organizations can construct fund-raising campaigns through mobile applications or through mobile services such as SMS messages to target individuals and incentivize charitable giving. Research studying how mobile devices may be used to enhance such campaigns is limited. In this paper, we study how charitable giving through mobile apps can be enhanced through the use of push notifications and economic incentives. Using a randomized field experiment conducted in partnership with a mobile service provider in the US, we examine the effects of push notifications, monetary subsidies, and intertemporal choices of rewards on donation outcomes by individual users. Even though the donated amounts are small, consistent with cause marketing campaigns, the campaigns are sustainable since the aggregate amounts received are significant over time. Our experiments provide three main findings. First, push notifications have a remarkably high effect on donation behavior in terms of the decision to donate as well as donation amounts, especially for idle users. Second, offering rebates as economic incentives are more effective than offering matching grants, in particular for male consumers. Finally, while users are indifferent between receiving their rewards now versus later, users that are offered a rebate respond with greater alacrity when rewarded immediately rather than later. Our findings have important implications for charitable organizations and application service providers as well as for the design of cause marketing campaigns using the mobile channel.

Keywords: Mobile Devices; Mobile Apps; Cause Marketing; Push Notifications; Monetary Incentives; Matching; Rebates; Intertemporal Choice; Field Experiments

Suggested Citation

Lee, Dongwon and Gopal, Anandasivam and Lee, Dokyun, Micro-Giving: On the Use of Mobile Devices and Monetary Subsidies in Charitable Giving (November 7, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3280553 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3280553

Dongwon Lee

HKUST Business School ( email )

Clearwater Bay
Kowloon, 999999
Hong Kong

Anandasivam Gopal (Contact Author)

Nanyang Business School ( email )

S3 B2-A28 Nanyang Avenue
Singapore, 639798

Dokyun Lee

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02215
United States

Do you want regular updates from SSRN on Twitter?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics