Marianne Bertrand, Matilde Bombardini, Raymond Fisman, Francesco Trebbi, 03 September 2018

Special interests use donations to influence the political process. This column shows that philanthropic efforts in the US are targeted, at least in part, to influence legislators. Districts with influential politicians receive more donations, as do non-profits with politicians on their boards. This is problematic because, unlike PAC contributions and lobbying, influence by charity is hard for the public to observe.

, 03 October 2016

Why do firms give to charity around Christmas? In this video, Adriaan Soetevent explains how, given a high enough price, firms benefit from this arrangement. This video was recorded during the European Economic Association's Congress held in Geneva at the end of August 2016. 

Kimberley Scharf, Sarah Smith, 16 September 2016

The rise of peer to peer (P2P) fundraising – soliciting donations on behalf of a charity for undertaking an activity  – has paralleled the growth of online social networks, but the incentives driving online donation behaviour are still poorly understood. This column examines giving behaviour for a large sample of P2P fundraising projects that individuals promoted to their Facebook friends. A negative relationship is found between the number of friends and donation size. The findings suggest a ‘relational altruism’ motive, where donors give because they care about the person who is raising the money.

Christine Exley, 27 December 2014

Decisions involving charitable giving often occur under the shadow of risk. A common finding is that potential donors give less when there is greater risk that their donation will have less impact. While this behaviour could be fully rationalised by standard economic models, this column shows that an additional mechanism is relevant – the use of risk as an excuse not to give. In light of this finding, this column also discusses how charities may benefit from structuring their donation requests in particular ways. 

Niklas Bengtsson, Per Engström, 28 October 2014

Critics of the ‘audit society’ and the so-called ‘new public management’ doctrines have gained momentum in recent years. At the centre of the critique is the so-called motivation crowding-out hypothesis. This column presents evidence from a field experiment involving Swedish non-profits. Far from crowding out intrinsic motivation, the threat of an audit improved all aspects of efficiency.

Dean Karlan, John List, 02 April 2012

With governments strapped for cash, charities are stepping up to provide public goods. But how can charities mobilise support from small donors to fund their work? CEPR DP8922 investigates whether altruists would donate more if they knew more about a charity’s quality. In the authors’ experiment, Bill and Melinda Gates matched donations to a particular charity. Small donors saw this as a signal of the charity’s quality – and donations soared.

Joel Waldfogel, 23 December 2009

Joel Waldfogel of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his new book, Scroogenomics. They discuss his measurements of the deadweight loss of Christmas gift giving over time and across countries, the motivations that people have for giving, and his ideas for encouraging charitable giving at the holidays. The interview was recorded in London in December 2009.

Tony Atkinson, Peter Backus, John Micklewright, Cathy Pharoah, Sylke Schnepf, 17 January 2009

While the UK’s provision of official development assistance stagnated over the last quarter-century, charitable donations for development increased seven-fold. Giving for development has grown faster than both total household income and giving for all other causes combined. Would an increase in government assistance risk crowding out private donations?

Gani Aldashev, 10 July 2007

Governments channel increasingly large amounts of development aid through NGOs and attempt to control them with policies such as matching grants, tax deductions, and tying grants to past performance. Such instruments may induce competition, but competition between NGOs is a double-edged sword.


CEPR Policy Research