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Matched Fundraising: Evidence From A Natural Field Experiment

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Executive Summary

The authors present evidence from a natural field experiment designed to shed light on the efficacy of fundraising schemes in which donations are matched by a lead donor. In conjunction with the Bavarian State Opera House, they mailed 14,000 regular opera attendees a letter describing a charitable fundraising project organized by the opera house. Recipients were randomly assigned to treatments designed to explore behavioral responses to linear matching schemes, as well as the mere existence of a substantial lead donor. They use the exogenous variation in match rates across treatments to estimate the price elasticities of charitable giving.

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