The giving type: Identifying donors

Angela C.M. de Oliveira, Rachel T.A. Croson, Catherine Eckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


One commonly used strategy in charitable fundraising is sharing names and contact information of donors between organizations, even those whose missions are unrelated. The efficacy of this practice hinges on the existence of "giving types," that is, a positive correlation at the individual level between giving to one organization and to another. We run an experiment using a non-student sample (an artifactual field experiment) in which participants have the opportunity to donate to multiple charitable organizations. We examine the relationship between giving to one organization and giving to another. Our results support the existence of a giving type; a factor analysis demonstrates that giving decisions are driven by a single (unique) factor, and individuals who give to one organization, give significantly more to other organizations than do non-donors. Our results have important implications for the economics of charity and for fundraising practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-435
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Chetan Dave, Philip Grossman, Cathleen A. Johnson, Tammy Leonard, Sherry Xin Li, James C. Murdoch and Adrian Sargeant for assistance at various stages of the project. Participants in the Current State of Philanthropy Workshop, Workshop on Social Dilemmas (Florida State), Foundations of Human Social Behavior International Symposium (Zurich), the Southern Economic Association annual meetings, the Economic Science Association International meetings, the XI Summer School on Economics and Philosophy: Social Norms, the NSF/DGF-sponsored Conference Contextualizing Economic Behaviour (New York), the editors and several anonymous referees provided helpful comments that greatly contributed to the quality of this manuscript. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation ( SES-0136684 , SES-0752855 ) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Network on the Nature and Origin of Preferences and Norms . Any errors remain our own.


  • Charitable Giving
  • Field Experiment
  • Preference Stability
  • Public Goods
  • Social Preferences

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