Dimensions of donation preferences: the structure of peer and income effects

Michalis Drouvelis, Benjamin M. Marx

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Charitable donations provide positive externalities and can potentially be increased with an understanding of donor preferences. We obtain a uniquely comprehensive characterization of donation motives using an experiment that varies treatments between and within subjects. Donations are increasing in peers’ donations and past subjects’ donations. These and other results suggest a model of heterogeneous beliefs about the social norm for giving. Estimation of such a model reveals substantial heterogeneity in subjects’ beliefs about and adherence to the norm. A simple fundraising strategy increases donations by an estimated 30 percent by exploiting previously unstudied correlations between dimensions of donor preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalExperimental Economics
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2020


  • altruism
  • charitable
  • donation
  • experiment
  • peer effects
  • social preferences
  • warm glow


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