What’s the best time to ask for donations?

We describe a natural field experiment investigating donation behaviour. The setting was an art gallery where donations could be deposited into a transparent box in the foyer. Two aspects of the donation environment were manipulated: signs on the donation box and the initial contents of the box. We used three sign treatments: a control with no sign, a sign that thanked donors, and a sign that indicated donations would be matched. We used two initial contents treatments: one with relatively little money ($50) and one with four times as much. The average donation per donor was significantly larger in the $200 treatments but this was offset by a decrease in the propensity to donate. In the matching treatments donations were significantly larger both at the per donor and per visitor level. A control variable turned out to have the largest influence on donation behaviour: the day of the week. The average donation per visitor was 51% higher on Sundays, when compared to every other day of the week.

Source: “How Sunday, price, and social norms influence donation behaviour” from Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 38, Issue 5, October 2009, Pages 722-727

Here I posted about how religious people are nicer on Sundays and explored that further here discussing whether it was being actively religious that changed people’s behavior or merely being primed recently with religious ideas.

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