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Ragan Petrie- Oct. 16, 2013

"Fundraising Through Online Social Networks: a Field Experiment on Peer-to-Peer Solicitation"
Ragan Petrie (with Marco Castillo and Clarence Wardell)
Abstract: Two main reasons why people donate to charity are that they have been asked and asked by someone they care about. One would therefore expect that charitable organizations could benefit from peer-to-peer fundraising if they were able to persuade donors to do so for them. However, little is known on the costs and benefits of asking donors to fundraise. We investigate this by implementing a field experiment embedded in an online giving organization’s web page. In our experiment, donors who have completed an online transaction were randomly asked to share having donated by posting on their Facebook (FB) wall or by sending a private message to a friend on FB. To further explore the impact of incentives on the willingness to fundraise, donors were also assigned to one of three treatments in which the organization added either $0, $1 or $5 in the donor's name in exchange for sharing the information. We have several findings: (1) Donors respond to incentives: larger add-on donations increase the willingness to share having made a donation. (2) Nuisance costs seem to matter: willingness to share is over two times higher among those already logged into FB. (3) The type of ask matters: willingness to share via a wall post or via a private message is different. (4) The benefits of incentivizing peer-to-peer fundraising exceed the costs. However, this requires for charitable organizations to customize fundraising.
Oct 15, 2013, 5:33 PM