Effect of Learning Recipient Preferences on Donations

Last registered on February 14, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Effect of Learning Recipient Preferences on Donations
Initial registration date
February 13, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
February 14, 2022, 1:13 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator

Harvard University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
A large amount of aid money flows annually from wealthy nations to less developed nations, with roughly one quarter from private donations. A longstanding policy question is what form this aid should take. Improving the quality of aid requires not only understanding the effects of different forms of aid but also knowing why decision-makers send some forms of aid instead of others. This study aims to provide new evidence on the behavior of possible aid donors. In particular, we study the extent to which donors update their donation decisions after learning about recipient's preferences for cash vs goods as aid.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Hickman, Peter. 2022. "Effect of Learning Recipient Preferences on Donations." AEA RCT Registry. February 14. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8974-1.0
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Amount of money allocated to cash transfers
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Amount of money allocated to goods
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We assign 100 people to each of three different treatments:
A) Control
B) Preferences
C) Consideration

In the control treatment, participants allocate $50 between themselves and poor Kenyan recipients. They can choose to allocate either via a cash transfers or by purchasing goods to give to the Kenyans. We explain the five goods they can use funds to purchase. Donors are informed about the cost to purchase and transport each of the goods.

The Preferences treatment also informs participants about the fraction of Kenyans who wanted the good instead of the money it takes to purchase and transport the good. Then donors update their allocations.

The Consideration treatment does not show participants the recipients' preferences, but rather asks donors to guess the recipient's preferences.

The primary hypothesis is that the Donors respond to learning recipient preferences by increasing cash donations and decreasing goods donations. The secondary hypothesis is that simply considering what recipients' preferences might be (the consideration treatment) also leads donors to shift towards cash transfers.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computer. Treatment assignments done in Stata then uploaded to SQL database. Online participants are assigned an ID when they begin survey, and each ID has a treatment variable in the database.
Randomization Unit
Individual survey taker.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 per arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Harvard University-Area Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials