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Investigations Into Charitable Fundraising

Menietti, Michael Ernest (2011) Investigations Into Charitable Fundraising. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Charitable giving in the U.S. totaled more than $300 billion in 2009, amounting to about 2% of GDP. These organizations depend on fundraising activities to generate donations from individuals who provide three-quarters of the funding for charitable organizations.Despite the size and scope of these operations, practical fundraising still relies heavily on rules-of-thumb and individual experience to design and run campaigns. These works aim to expand the understanding of fundraising through empirical and theoretical analysis. Leadership giving is the first fundraising practice explored. Leadership gifts are funds collected privately by a charity prior to announcing the campaign and accepting donations from the public. ``Seeds to Succeed' examines a theoretical model for leadership giving first put forth in Andreoni (1998).We implement his model in the laboratory and find that when fixed-costs are high leadership gifts can greatly increase the chances a project producing benefits for the public.Intriguingly, with low fixed-costs leadership giving can actually have a small negative effect on subsequent donations.The second chapter, ``Provision Point Mechanisms and the Over-provision of Public Goods', examines the use of contribution refunds by fundraisers.That rather simple tool of guarenteeing refunds theorectically provides fundraisiers the ability to extract a large amount of contributions.The result is that the expected outcome of the campaign is the collection of inefficiently large contributions.The predicted over-provision occurs in 82\% of the time in our laboratory environment.The final chapter, ``Fundraising Goals', looks at the role of announcements at the start of campaigns.We theorize that announcements improve contributions by reducing donor's uncertainty about the project.Large improvements are possible with up to a 73% increase in contributions and a large increase in the donor base.Experimental data supports the prediction that announced goals increase contributions.Reducing uncertainty did not have the effect of further increasing contributions but led to greater coordination of contributions around the goal.The improved coordination significantly increases donor welfare under an uncertainty reduction.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Menietti, Michael Ernestmem78@pitt.eduMEM78
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairVesterlund, Lisevester@pitt.eduVESTER
Committee MemberOchs, Jackjochs@pitt.eduJOCHS
Committee MemberDuffy, Johnjduffy@pitt.eduJDUFFY
Committee MemberWeber,
Committee MemberBhattacharya, Souravsourav@pitt.eduSOURAV
Date: 29 September 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 3 May 2011
Approval Date: 29 September 2011
Submission Date: 17 June 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Economics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: charitable fundraising; experimental economics; public economics; public goods
Other ID:, etd-06172011-133104
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:47
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:44


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