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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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  • University of Illinois


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


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