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Majority size and conformity behavior in charitable giving: Field evidence from a donation-based crowdfunding platform in Japan

Shusaku Sasaki

Journal of Economic Psychology, 2019, vol. 70, issue C, 36-51

Abstract: A charitable donor typically imitates the majority contribution of other donors. This study examines the relationships between majority size and this so-called donor’s conformity behavior, by empirically investigating the impacts of multiple earlier donations on the donation of a subsequent donor to JapanGiving, a donation-based crowdfunding platform in Japan. This analysis is possible because the platform’s webpage displays the previous donation amounts in chronological order, thus allowing us to examine the modal amount of more recent donations. By using data on 9989 actual donations, our dynamic panel analysis suggests that when the number of most recent continuous modal donations increases, the likelihood that a subsequent donor matches the modal amount increases. This result supports the notion that a donor’s conformity behavior is more likely to occur when a greater proportion of other donors give a similar amount. Furthermore, the effects of continuous modal donations are strongly observed for low monetary ranges. We interpret that initiating further cooperation among a large number of less cooperative other donors would become harder, or individuals would obtain an excuse for less cooperation due to the others’ behaviors. Finally, we discuss how our findings connect economic studies of charity and social psychology studies of conformity and could help improve the effectiveness of fundraising by charities.

Keywords: Charitable behavior; Conformity; Free-ride; Dynamic panel model; Crowdfunding; Fundraising management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D64 H41 C99 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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