How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People’s Donations to Fund Public Goods?
Last registered on May 14, 2019

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-0004204
Initial registration date
May 13, 2019
Last updated
May 14, 2019 11:15 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Northwestern University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2009-12-01
End date
2017-05-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We conducted two matching grant fundraising experiments with an international development charity. Using a sample of non-prior donors, the primary experiment finds that a matching grant offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation raises more funds than a matching grant offer from an anonymous donor. The effect is strongest for donors who previously gave to other poverty-oriented charities. This is consistent with a quality signal mechanism, although alternative mechanisms are not ruled out. The results help clarify why people give to charity, what models help to describe those motivations, and how practitioners can leverage large donors to increase their fundraising potential.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Karlan, Dean and John List . 2019. "How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People’s Donations to Fund Public Goods?." AEA RCT Registry. May 14. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4204/history/46543
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2009-12-01
Intervention End Date
2009-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Number and amount of individuals' donations to TechnoServe
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
All participants in our primary study received a letter in the mail requesting donations to TechnoServe, a poverty-alleviation nonprofit. The treatment group received a letter that mentioned that individual donations would be matched in the ratio of $2:$1 by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The letters sent to the control group mentioned that individual donations would be matched $2:$1 by a grant from an anonymous donor. The sample for the primary study consisted entirely of individuals who had not previously donated to TechnoServe (i.e., ‘cold list donors’).

In the secondary study, the treatment group received letters that specified that individual donations would be matched by BMGF. Control letters requested donations to TechnoServe without mentioning a matching donation. The sample frame for this experiment consisted entirely of prior donors, or ‘warm list donors,’ to TechnoServe.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization performed by a direct marketing firm using a computer.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
N/A
Sample size: planned number of observations
61,483 (primary experiment); 52,988 (secondary experiment)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Primary experiment: 30,731 treated individuals; 30,735 control individuals.
Secondary experiment: 25,993 treated individuals; 25,995 control individuals
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?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers