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"Facta Non Verba": an experiment on pledging and giving

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  • Univ. Bourgogne France-Comté, Burgundy School of Business
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Abstract

We design an experiment to investigate whether asking people to state how much they will donate to a charity (i.e., to pledge) increases their actual donation. Individuals’ endowment is either certain or a random variable. We study different types of pledges, namely, private, public and irrevocable, which differ in terms of the cost to the individual for not keeping the promise. We show that in absence of endowment uncertainty, private and public pledges are associated with lower donations as compared to donations in the no-pledge case: private pledges slightly reduce donations and public pledges reduce them more significantly. Donations increase with uncertainty (in terms of increased endowment dispersion) for both private and public pledge situations, although donations with private pledges remain higher than donations with public pledge.

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... Turner kept his promise, and ended his payment to the UN in 2016. 1 If his action could have been driven by several motives, he stated once that one main purpose of his generous pledge "was putting other rich people on notice that I would be calling on them to be more generous." 2 Many large fundraising campaigns, such as the French Téléthon, which collects funds to fight myopathic disorders, rely on the pledge mechanism (Sutan, Grolleau, Mateu, & Vranceanu, 2018). Several field experiments revealed that donors to charity are subject to social influence; individuals can be induced to give more if they receive information that their peers made generous gifts (Martin & Randal, 2008;Shang & Croson, 2009;Sarah et al., 2015;Sasaki, 2019). ...
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