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Selective Recognition: How to Recognize Donors to Increase Charitable Giving

Samek, Anya and Sheremeta, Roman (2015): Selective Recognition: How to Recognize Donors to Increase Charitable Giving. Forthcoming in: Economic Inquiry

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Abstract

Recognizing donors by revealing their identities is important for increasing charitable giving. Using a framed field experiment, we show that all forms of recognition that we examine increase donations relative to the baseline treatment, and recognizing only the highest or only the lowest donors has the strongest and significant effect. We argue that selective recognition creates tournament-like incentives. Recognizing the highest donors activates the desire to seek a ‘positive prize’ of prestige, while recognizing the lowest donors activates the desire to avoid a ‘negative prize’ of shame. We discuss how selective recognition can be used by charities to increase donations.

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