Do Thank-You Calls Increase Charitable Giving? Expert Forecasts and Field Experimental Evidence

62 Pages Posted: 13 May 2019

See all articles by Anya Samek

Anya Samek

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR); University of Southern California - Department of Economics

Chuck Longfield

Blackbaud, Inc

Date Written: April 13, 2019

Abstract

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

Samek, Anya and Longfield, Chuck, Do Thank-You Calls Increase Charitable Giving? Expert Forecasts and Field Experimental Evidence (April 13, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3371327 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3371327

Anya Samek (Contact Author)

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

University of Southern California - Department of Economics ( email )

3620 South Vermont Ave. Kaprielian (KAP) Hall, 300
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Chuck Longfield

Blackbaud, Inc ( email )

2000 Daniel Island Drive
Charleston, SC 29492
United States

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