Is a donor in hand better than two in the bush? Evidence from a natural field experiment

Craig E. Landry, Andreas Lange, John A. List, Michael K. Price, Nicholas G. Rupp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines why people initially give to charities, why they remain committed to the cause, and what factors attenuate these influences. Using an experimental design that links donations across distinct treatments separated in time, we present several results. For example, previous donors are more likely to give, and contribute more, than other donor types. Yet, how previous donors were acquired is critical: agents initially attracted by an economic mechanism are more likely to continue giving than agents attracted by a nonmechanism factor. From a methodological viewpoint, our study showcases the benefit of moving beyond an experimental design that focuses on short-run substitution effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-983
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

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