Does online salience predict charitable giving? Evidence from SMS text donations

Carlo Perroni, Kimberley Scharf*, Oleksandr Talavera, Linh Vi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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We explore the link between online salience and charitable donations. Using a unique dataset on phone text donations that includes detailed information on the timing of cash gifts to charities, we link donations to time variation in online searches for words that appear in those charities’ mission statements. The results suggest that an increase in the online salience of the activities pursued by different charities affects the number and volume of donations made to those charities and to charities that pursue different goals. We uncover evidence of positive “own-salience” effects and negative “cross-salience” effects on donations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-149
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Early online date18 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the National Funding Scheme, particularly William Makower and David Wright, for making SMS donations data available to us (in anonymized form); and to Minjung Kim, Ayse Yemiscigil, other participants to the 2020 SPI conference, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. All views and opinions expressed in this paper are our own, and do not reflect the views and opinions of the National Funding Scheme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Charitable donations
  • News shocks
  • Online search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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