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How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?
Last registered on July 26, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001296
Initial registration date
July 26, 2016
Last updated
July 26, 2016 2:35 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Northwestern University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago, NBER
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2009-01-12
End date
2010-03-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We conducted two matching grant experiments with an international development charity. The first and primary experiment tests a matching grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) compared to a matching grant from an anonymous donor. The second, auxiliary experiment, establishes that the matching grant from BMGF in this context does generate further donations compared to a control. We find that naming BMGF as the matching donor raises more money, both compared to an anonymous donor and compared to control. In a key result, we find that the effect persists after the matching period, and that the naming-BMGF effect is heterogeneous—largest for donors who previously gave to other poverty-oriented charities. Combining this with a survey of representative Americans that shows a correlation between giving to poverty charities and familiarity with the BMGF, we conclude that the matching gift here primarily works through a quality signal mechanism.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Karlan, Dean and John List. 2016. "How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?." AEA RCT Registry. July 26. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1296-1.0.
Former Citation
Karlan, Dean and John List. 2016. "How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People's Donations to Fund Public Goods?." AEA RCT Registry. July 26. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1296/history/9620.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The first (and primary) field experiment examined the impact on potential donors to a charity (TechnoServe) of naming the matching donor (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) versus not providing the identity of the matching donor.

The second field experiment examined the impact on potential donors of a matching grant provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at a ratio of $2:$1 versus a control group that received no match offer.
Intervention Start Date
2009-01-12
Intervention End Date
2010-03-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Experiment #1: Named Matching Grant vs. Unnamed Matching Grant

Before Matching Grant Deadline:

Response Rate

$ Given, Unconditional on Giving

$ Given, Conditional on Giving

Number of households

Number of donations

Post-Matching Grant Deadline

Number of gifts

Amount Given, Unconditional on Giving

Amount Given, Conditional on Giving

Number of households

Number of donations

Combined, Pre and Post Matching Grant Deadline

Number of gifts

Amount Given, Unconditional on Giving

Amount Given, Conditional on Giving


Experiment #2: Matching Grant versus Non-Matching Grant

Before Matching Grant Deadline:

Response Rate

$ Given, Unconditional on Giving

$ Given, Conditional on Giving

Number of solicitations

Number of donations

Post-Matching Grant Deadline

Gave in Post-Match Period

$ Given, Unconditional on Giving

$ Given, Conditional on Giving

Number of solicitations

Number of donations

Combined, Pre and Post Matching Grant Deadline

Total # of Gifts

$ Given, Unconditional on Giving

$ Given, Conditional on Giving

number of solicitations







Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Experiment #1: Named Matching Grant vs. Unnamed Matching Grant

Potential donors were selected from a mailing list rented from other charities consisting of households who had previously given to charities other than TechnoServe, but not TechnoServe itself. A campaign was used in which the treatment group consisting of half of the sample of potential donors were offered a 2:1 matching grant from a named and prestigious donor (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and the control group consisting of other half were offered a 2:1 matching grant from an unnamed donor.

Experiment #2: Matching Grant versus Non-Matching Grant

Potential donors were selected from among prior donors to TechnoServe. These potential donor households were mailed letters by TechnoServe soliciting donations. The treatment group received letters stating that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would match their donation. The control group received solicitation letters with no promise of a matching donation from any organization.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The randomization process and distribution of the letters soliciting donations for both experiments were carried out by a direct marketing firm hired by TechnoServe.
Randomization Unit
Households (treated as individual donors)
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
No clusters



Sample size: planned number of observations
Experiment #1: 61,483 prospective donor households ; Experiment #2: 52,998 prior donor households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Experiment #1: Named Matching Grant vs. Unnamed Matching Grant

Total: 61,483 prospective donor households

Treatment: 30,740 prospective donor households

Control: 30,743 prospective donor households

Experiment #2: Matching Grant versus Non-Matching Grant

Total: 52,998 prior donor households

Treatment: 25,993 prior donor households

Control: 25,995 prior donor households
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
March 01, 2010, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
March 01, 2010, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
No clusters
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Experiment #1: Named Matching Grant vs. Unnamed Matching Grant

61,483 prospective donor households

Experiment #2: Matching Grant versus Non-Matching Grant

52,998 prior donor households
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Experiment #1: Named Matching Grant vs. Unnamed Matching Grant Treatment: 30,740 prospective donor households Control: 30,743 prospective donor households Experiment #2: Matching Grant versus Non-Matching Grant Treatment: 25,993 prior donor households Control: 25,995 prior donor households
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers