SPI Working Paper Series

WP #: 123

Date: Dec 2014


Other Sources


@ Other

SPI Funded Paper

"Feel the Warmth" Glow: A Field Experiment on Manipulating the Act of Giving

     This paper was published in Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organization in 2013

    Amanda Chuan, Anya Savikhin Samek

    University of Pennsylvania
    University of Wisconsin-Madison

We conducted a field experiment with a charitable group to investigate whether giving the donor an option to write a personalized holiday card to the recipient influences giving behavior. Over 1,500 households were approached in a door-to-door campaign and randomized to either a treatment group, in which donors were presented with the option to write their own card for the recipient, or a control group, in which donors were not given the option to write their own card for the recipient. We predict that treatment should increase contributions through making the gift more meaningful, but may also decrease contributions by increasing the transaction and social costs of donating. We find evidence in favor of the negative effects of costs from treatment, and no evidence of increased giving. We also observe that our treatment crowds out small donors (donors giving $5 or less).

SPI Quick Look:
We partnered with a local charitable group, Feel the Warmth, to assess whether giving the donor the option of writing a personalized holiday card changes giving behavior. Our solicitors conducted a door-to-door solicitation drive which approached over 1,500 houses. We predicted that giving donors the option of writing their own message on a holiday card for the recipient of their donation would increase average donation amounts. However, it may also make the potential donors less likely to give anything at all. Our experimental evidence finds that giving donors the option of personalizing a holiday card decreased the proportion of households that donated anything and did not increase average donations among households that gave.