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From lab to field: Social distance and charitable giving in teams

Laura K. Gee, Michael J. Schreck and Ankriti Singh

Economics Letters, 2020, vol. 192, issue C

Abstract: Laboratory evidence suggests that team members behave more altruistically when they have closer social connections to their teammates. Despite the potential significance of this finding for fundraising practice, it has gone largely untested in the applied setting of charitable giving. Following the rich tradition of converting “proofs of concept” in the laboratory to novel implementations in the field, we use a 6,471-person field experiment to test whether reducing social distance within a team increases donations to a non-profit university. We reduce social distance by informing team members that they participated in the same college organization (Greek life, athletics, or a specific volunteering organization). We find no evidence that this leads to greater altruism, but we caution that further studies are needed to understand how to best leverage the findings from the laboratory in the field.

Keywords: Charitable giving; Field experiment; Public goods; Social distance; Social information (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C9 H6 D4 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2020.109128

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