What drives political and charitable donations? Evidence from a survey experiment

Last registered on March 28, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
What drives political and charitable donations? Evidence from a survey experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009023
Initial registration date
March 27, 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
March 28, 2022, 7:16 AM EDT

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

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Paris School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Sciences Po Paris
PI Affiliation
Sciences Po Paris

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-03-28
End date
2022-04-01
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
What motivates political and charitable donations? We plan to study this question by means of a survey experiment, exploiting the fact that in France both political and charitable donations benefit from income tax deductions, and we are in the midst of an electoral campaign.

In France, charitable and political giving can indeed benefit from a nonrefundable income tax credit equal to 66% of the gift (the gift can be deducted from the income tax up to a ceiling currently equal to 20% of taxable income). However, given the income tax credit is nonrefundable, this benefit does not apply to the households that do not pay personal income tax, which is more than 50% of the French population at the lower end of the income distribution. We plan to make use of this policy to study the determinants of political and charitable donations, especially the price of a donation, the salience and the understanding of the tax rebate policy, and the framing of matching.

To do so, we will run a randomized survey experiment. First, we will collect information on the socio-economic characteristics of the surveyed individuals, including information on their taxable income (to determine whether they are eligible to the nonrefundable income tax credit). We will then investigate:
- whether they are used to make political and/or charitable donations (by asking them whether they have done so during the past 12 months, and if so, the identity of the beneficiary and the amount of the donation),
- whether they are aware of the existence of the income tax credit mechanism, and
- whether they have already benefited from it (if eligible).

The experiment will take place before the 2022 legislative elections in France, a time at which the issue of political donations is particularly salient. It takes place as part of the CEVIPOF panel survey by IPSOS, to which we add our experiment. Baseline cha

For the survey experiment, we will first split the individuals into two different groups of similar size: one where we will investigate their willingness to give to political parties and/or campaigns ("political donations") and one where we will investigate their willingness to give to charitable organizations ("charitable donations").

We will first inform the participants of the existence of the nonrefundable income tax credit mechanism, and explain them how it works.

We will then split each of the two groups into 4 groups of same size : (i) the control group, (ii) treatment 1, (iii) treatment 2, and (iv) treatment 3. We will compare the willingness of surveyed individuals to donate
- Under the current policy (control group);
- If instead of a nonrefundable income tax credit, the tax policy was changed to an instantaneous tax rebate (treatment 1);
- If instead of a nonrefundable income tax credit, the policy was changed to a matching grant (in the spirit of the British "Gift Aid" system) (treatment 2);
- If instead of a nonrefundable income tax credit, the tax policy was revoked.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Cagé, Julia, Moritz Hengel and Yuchen Huang. 2022. "What drives political and charitable donations? Evidence from a survey experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. March 28. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9023
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2022-03-28
Intervention End Date
2022-04-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Willingness to donate to charitable organizations and/or political parties/electoral campaigns, measured both at the extensive margin (indicator variable equal to one if individual willing to make a donation and to zero otherwise) and at the intensive margin (amount of the intended donation).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Political participation, especially voting in the presidential election
Political attitudes, such as trust in the system
Propensity to declare their donation
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
On the baseline, we will first ask the survey participants the following baseline questions:
- whether they pay personal income tax or not (thus deciding their previous eligibility to the tax relief);
- previous donation(s): whether they have made a charitable donation and/or a political donation (to political parties or campaign) in the previous 12 months;
- plan to donate: whether they plan to do on in the next 12 months;
- previous knowledge of the policy: whether they think donations will give them a tax benefit and, if so, whether they think this tax benefit is the same for everyone.

Then, we will randomly divide the participants into 8 groups of similar size.

First, half of the population will receive questions about charitable donations and half about political donations (to both political parties and electoral campaigns).
Then, in each sub-group, the participants will first see a information sheet about the current tax policy (non refundable income tax credit), where one is eligible to a tax reduction equal to 66% the amount of donation if he/she pays income tax.

Then, each of the sub-group will be randomised into a control group and 3 treatments:

- The control group will be asked about their willingness to donate in the following months.
- Treatment group 1 will be asked about their willingness to donate if the policy is changed into one of instantaneous tax rebate: that is to say they get 66% right back instead of having to wait for the tax return.
- Treatment group 2 will be asked about their willingness to donate if the policy is changed into one of matching: for every euro donated, 2 euros are matched by the government instantaneously.
- Treatment group 3 will be asked about their willingness to donate if the policy is revoked.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
We will collaborate with the French Presidential Election Survey (L'ENQUÊTE ÉLECTORALE FRANÇAISE 2022), a panel survey jointly ran by CEVIPOF (laboratory in Sciences Po), the newspaper Le Monde and the survey company Ipsos. We will add questions into their panel and they will be in charge of the randomization procedure.
Randomization Unit
individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
12,000-16,000 individuals, depending on the number of panelists and attrition rate
Sample size: planned number of observations
12,000-16,000 individuals, depending on the number of panelists and attrition rate
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1500 responses per treatment arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
MDE: 0.0329 assuming a SD of 0.023 as in Cage & Guillot (2020)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials