Commitments to Give-if-you-Win Exceed Donations After a Win
University of Exeter
Should fundraisers ask a banker to donate “if he earns a bonus” or wait and ask after the bonus is known? Standard EU theory predicts these are equivalent; loss-aversion and signaling models predict a larger commitment before the bonus is known; theories of affect predict the reverse. In five experiments incorporating lab and field elements (N=1363), we solicited donations from small lottery winnings , varying the conditionality of donations between participants. Overall, we find conditional donations (“if you win”) exceeded ex-post donations. This represents the first evidence on how pro-social behavior extends to conditional commitments over uncertain income, with implications for charitable fundraising, giving pledges, and experimental methodology
We would like to thank the Universities of Essex, Düsseldorf, Mannheim and Bonn for providing financial support for our research.
University of Exeter Working Paper