Do Thank-You Calls Increase Charitable Giving? Expert Forecasts and Field Experimental Evidence
62 Pages Posted: 13 May 2019
Date Written: April 13, 2019
Calling to thank donors is a key fundraising strategy in the non-profit sector. Yet the effectiveness of these calls remains untested. We report on field experiments with public television stations and a national non-profit in which new donors were randomized to receive a thank-you call or not. The experiments involved about 600,000 donors and 500,000 thank-you calls over 6 years. We found a precisely estimated null effect of calls on subsequent giving. This result is in stark contrast to the incentivized forecasts of fundraising professionals and the general public, who anticipated that calls would increase donor retention by about 80%.
Keywords: Charitable giving, Field experiment, Identity, Thank-you calls, Gratitude, Expert forecasts, Social preferences, Reciprocity
JEL Classification: D91, H41, C93
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation