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How Sunday, price, and social norms influence donation behaviour

By Richard Martin and John Randal

Abstract

We describe a natural field experiment investigating donation behaviour. The setting was an art gallery where donations could be deposited into a transparent box in the foyer. Two aspects of the donation environment were manipulated: signs on the donation box and the initial contents of the box. We used three sign treatments: a control with no sign, a sign that thanked donors, and a sign that indicated donations would be matched. We used two initial contents treatments: one with relatively little money ($50) and one with four times as much. The average donation per donor was significantly larger in the $200 treatments but this was offset by a decrease in the propensity to donate. In the matching treatments donations were significantly larger both at the per donor and per visitor level. A control variable turned out to have the largest influence on donation behaviour: the day of the week. The average donation per visitor was 51% higher on Sundays, when compared to every other day of the week.Natural field experiment Donation Charity Price Social norms

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