Charity Begins at Home: A Lab-in-the-Field Experiment on Charitable Giving

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Charities operate at different levels: national, state, or local. We test the effect of the level of the organization on charitable giving in a sample of adults in two Texas communities. Subjects make four charitable giving “dictator game” decisions from a fixed amount of money provided by the experimenter. Three decisions target different charitable organizations, all of which have a disaster-relief mission, but differ in the level of operation. The fourth targets an individual recipient, identified by the local fire department as a victim of a fire. One of the four is selected randomly for payment. Giving is significantly higher to national and local organizations compared to state. We find a higher propensity to donate and larger amount donated to the individual relative to all organizations. Subsequent analysis compares a number of demographic and attitudinal covariates with donations to specific charities. In a second decision, subjects instead indicate which of their four prior decisions they would most prefer to implement. Here we see that a majority of subjects prefer the gift to the individual.

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Eckel, Catherine C., Priday, Benjamin A. and Wilson, Rick K.. "Charity Begins at Home: A Lab-in-the-Field Experiment on Charitable Giving." Games, 9, no. 4 (2018) MDPI:

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