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Does Windfall Money Encourage Charitable Giving? An Experimental Study

Abstract

Recently, increasing numbers of nonprofit studies have used experiments to understand individuals’ charitable giving decisions. One significant gap between experimental settings and the real world is the way in which individuals earn the incomes that they use for charitable donations. This study examined the relationship between individuals’ income sources and their charitable giving decisions. To do so, we conducted a laboratory experiment with 188 college students and asked them to donate with windfall money or with money earned from a real task, respectively. The findings showed that participants donated more to charities if their funds derived from windfall gains. Implications for conducting experiments and motivating donors are also discussed.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Rene Bekkers, Weigang Fu, Haoran He, Zhiwei Liu, Alex Ingrams, Gregg G. Van Ryzin, Sanjay Pandey for helpful comments. We also thank Shuying Wang for the help in z-Tree programming. For all remaining errors, authors may blame each other.

Funding

The authors acknowledged the financial support from the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law.

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Correspondence to Huafang Li.

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The authors declared no potential conflicts of interests with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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Li, H., Liang, J., Xu, H. et al. Does Windfall Money Encourage Charitable Giving? An Experimental Study. Voluntas 30, 841–848 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-9985-y

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Keywords

  • Windfall effect
  • Charitable giving
  • Laboratory experiment