Paper Once and Done: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Increase Charitable Contributions
Total charitable gifts of money typically exceed 2 percent of gross domestic product in the United States. Nine out of ten U.S. citizens donate to at least one charitable cause every year. The traditional explanation for such giving is that people are motivated by pure altruism. Andreoni (1989) introduced an alternative hypothesis based on selfish motives: people give because it feels good to give, or because of the ‘warm glow’ they receive from giving to a worthy cause. These two competing theories have dominated the literature on charitable giving, but it is an open question as to whether these explanations are sufficient to explain real-world giving behavior. In this paper, we present the results of a two-year series of large-scale natural field experiments involving hundreds of thousands of subjects.
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