SPI Event

Ragan Petrie will Present Recent Research on Pro-Social Behavior:
Fundraising Through Online Social Networks: A Field Experiment on Peer-to-Peer Solicitation


Speaker: Ragan Petrie


Date: Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Time: 1:30 - 2:45PM

Location: Plenary Hall (5th floor) Nancy Nicholas Hall, School of Human Ecology, The University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Webinar Link: SPIhub.org/webinar3 (select option "Enter as a Guest" and please use your first and last name to identify yourself to the other participants)


Notes: The above webinar link will be active at 1:25PM CST, 5 minutes prior to the talk at 1:30PM CST. The online webinar will be hosted using Adobe Connect software. If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before, please test your connection here.


  • Resources: Audio, video and the slides from the talk will be posted a week after the webinar.
  • Downloads: Flyer




Ragan Petrie is an Associate Professor at George Mason University and Faculty at the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science (ICES). Her research focuses on using experimental economics to investigate issues of charitable giving.


She will be presenting her recent work (with Marco Castillo and Clarence Wardell) titled "Fundraising Through Online Social Networks: A Field Experiment on Peer-to-Peer Solicitation"


Abstract: Two main reasons why people donate to charity are that they have been asked and asked by someone they care about. One would therefore expect that charitable organizations could benefit from peer-to-peer fundraising if they were able to persuade donors to do so for them. However, little is known on the costs and benefits of asking donors to fundraise. We investigate this by implementing a field experiment embedded in an online giving organization’s web page. In our experiment, donors who have completed an online transaction were randomly asked to share having donated by posting on their Facebook (FB) wall or by sending a private message to a friend on FB. To further explore the impact of incentives on the willingness to fundraise, donors were also assigned to one of three treatments in which the organization added either $0, $1 or $5 in the donor's name in exchange for sharing the information. We have several findings: (1) Donors respond to incentives: larger add-on donations increase the willingness to share having made a donation. (2) Nuisance costs seem to matter: willingness to share is over two times higher among those already logged into FB. (3) The type of ask matters: willingness to share via a wall post or via a private message is different. (4) The benefits of incentivizing peer-to-peer fundraising exceed the costs. However, this requires for charitable organizations to customize fundraising.