Episode 15: Reciprocity Decays Over Time

Episode 15: “Field study of charitable giving reveals that reciprocity decays over time”

Waiting a month to ask for a gift decreases the likelihood of a donation by 30 percent. That’s according to research on positive reciprocity that looked at more than 18,000 donation solicitations by a university hospital system.

“Field study of charitable giving reveals that reciprocity decays over time” was published by Judd Kessler, associate professor of business economics and public policy at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Co-authors were Amanda Chuan, now an assistant professor at Michigan State University, and Katherine Milkman, also of Wharton.

In this episode of Fresh Research, Kessler talks about the details of the paper, which examined donation requests made by the hospital system via email to a set of former patients in the fourth months after their first hospital visit. An extra 30-day delay between the “provision of medical care and a donation solicitation” decreases the likelihood of a donation by 30 percent. They used donation solicitation data on adult outpatients who visited the hospital system between May 2013 and April 2015.

“Donation rates decline as the time separating a patient’s hospital visit and solicitation increases,” according to the study. “It shows that the percentage of patients who donate decreases considerably (from almost 1.5 percent to 0.4 percent) as the time delay separating the visit from a solicitation increases. This decline over time holds for both the first and last presolicitation hospital visits.”

Judd Kessler

Anytime there’s the possibility that an organization has provided something that a potential donor values, this “kind of psychology could kick in,” Kessler said. “The research is relevant to settings beyond hospitals asking former patients for donations. We see applications of the research to schools that provide you with an education, then later on solicit you for funds. Religious organizations that will provide a variety of services and ask for donations as well. Humane societies, disaster relief organizations, and also cultural institutions. If you enjoy a museum or an opera, you might feel reciprocal and be more likely to give in the weeks or months after those visits.”

Episode 32: The 2020 NPT 100...

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The nation’s largest nonprofits reported aggregate revenue of $86.4 billion in 2019, which is up 1 percent over the previous year. Those figures come from The NonProfit Times‘ 2020 NPT 100 report, a study of the largest nonprofits in the United States. Jacob Harold, executive vice president at Candid, shares his insights during a discussion about […]

Episode 31: Unlocking Generosity with AI...

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The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is exploding and the next few years will be huge for nonprofits in adopting the technology as a strategic tool, from the program side to the fundraising side. Authors Beth Kanter and Allison Fine join this episode of The NonProfit Times‘ Fresh Research podcast to discuss their paper, “Unlocking […]

Episode 30: Charitable Estate Gifts...

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It’s nothing new to fundraisers and planned gift officers that women and childless couples are the prime prospects for bequests and other estate gifts. New research suggests that those are still huge factors in the process but timing your nonprofit’s communication based on recency of gifts might be exactly the wrong way to go. Russell […]

Episode 29: Charity Navigator Encompass Rating System...

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Charity Navigator this month unveiled the first pillar of its new rating system. Years in the making, the Encompass Rating System (ERS) expands the number of charities rated from 9,000 to almost 160,000. President and CEO Michael Thatcher joins the Fresh Research podcast to explain the four “beacons” that will comprise the 100-point rating system: […]

Episode 28: How Civic Engagement Changes in Times of Crisis...

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The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the nonprofit sector in a number of ways. What effect COVID-19 might have on charitable behavior, like volunteering, remains to be seen. In this episode, we talk to Nathan Dietz, associate research scholar at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a senior researcher at its Do Good […]

Episode 27: Generosity Across Income And Wealth...

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The percentage of household income given to charity each year generally runs about 2 percent across most income levels, but goes up with wealth, according to a new research paper.   Benjamin Priday, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics at Texas A&M University, joined the Fresh Research podcast to discuss, “Generosity Across Income and […]

Episode 26: Best Nonprofits To Work For...

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“I feel I am valued in this organization.” “I can trust what this organization tells me.” “Most days, I feel I have made progress at work.” Those are three of the top 10 drivers identified in the 2020 Best Nonprofits To Work For. The special report appears annually in the April edition of The NonProfit […]

Episode 25: Coronavirus And Your Message To Donors...

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Regular programming for the Fresh Research podcast has been pre-empted this month to tackle the the issue that has impacted life worldwide the past few weeks: the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). The NonProfit Times recently hosted a webinar on mail and digital messaging to donors during COVID-19, which has led to widespread shutdowns of non-essential business […]

Episode 24: Appeals to Donor Benefits Versus Recipient Benefits...

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This episode of Fresh Research tackles the options when it comes to donors appeals. Should your appeal take aim at the donor and benefits to them, or instead remind them how their gift would benefit the community? John List, the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago collaborated with  James J. Murphy […]

Episode 23: Do Thank You Calls Increase Charitable Giving?...

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Thanking donors for their gifts may be the right thing to do but does it lead to more gifts or bigger donations in the future? A thank you call to a donor for their gift may be just polite and considered the right thing to do but a recent study suggests that they won’t impact […]

Episode 22: The Women & Girls Index...

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About $1.60 of every $100 in charitable giving in the United States goes to an organization exclusively dedicated to women and girls. A new report estimates that more than 45,000 nonprofit organizations are dedicated to women and girls and receive about $6.3 billion in charitable contributions. That makes up about 3.3 percent of all charities […]

Episode 21: #GivingTuesday...

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#GivingTuesday will be here before you know it. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving — this year, Dec. 3 — is when the charitable sector has come together to help offset the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday last year was responsible for raising an estimated $400 million. That figure has grown each year since […]

Episode 20: Effects of Tax Reform on Itemizers...

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The number of taxpayers who itemized last year has been in steep decline, according to the latest Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data. Why? And why is that important? Well, most charitable giving in the U.S. comes from itemizers. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 nearly doubled the standard deduction. Fewer than 1 in […]

Episode 19: Nonprofit Impact Matters...

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The nonprofit sector employs some 12.3 million people and accounts for more than 10 percent of the workforce in the United States. Payrolls exceed that of construction, finance and transportation. The number of nonprofits has increased by almost 75 percent between 2000 and 2016. There are 1.425 million nonprofits in the United States, including almost […]

Episode 18: A Closer Look At 2018 Giving...

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Giving USA estimated that charitable giving in the United States was $427.71 billion overall in 2018, a less-than-1-percent increase over the $424.74 billion for 2017, according to preliminary estimates from “Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018,” released last month. Adjusted for inflation, giving was actually down 1.7 percent over the […]

Episode 17: Are Millennials Really So Selfish?...

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Two researchers at Princeton University took a closer look at charitable donations to analyze how the philanthropic behavior of Millennials compares to earlier generations. “Are Millennials Really So Selfish? Preliminary evidence from the Philanthropy Panel Study” was published by Harvey Rosen, The John L. Weinberg Professor of Economics and Business Policy Emeritus at Princeton University, […]

Episode 16: M+R Benchmarks Study...

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The 13th annual M+R Benchmarks Study is chock full of data almost as far as the eye can see. That’s what happens when you analyze 4.4 million emails sent to 37.5 million email addresses, more than 7 million online gifts and $376 million raised, all from a variety of 135 nonprofits of all shapes and […]

Episode 15: Reciprocity Decays Over Time...

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Waiting a month to ask for a gift decreases the likelihood of a donation by 30 percent. That’s according to research on positive reciprocity that looked at more than 18,000 donation solicitations by a university hospital system. “Field study of charitable giving reveals that reciprocity decays over time” was published by Judd Kessler, associate professor […]

Episode 14: Donor-Advised Fund Grants During Recessions...

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Donor-advised funds (DAF) have become one of the fastest-growing vehicles for philanthropy in the past decade. They also have become a lightning rod in the debate about charitable giving, described by skeptics as a “Wall Street takeover of charity.” Other critics argue that that donors can receive a tax deduction for contributions to their DAF account but the […]

Episode 13: Anatomy of a Mega Merger...

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Two of the two largest data and information nonprofit organizations in the United States announced a merger on Feb. 1. The Foundation Center and GuideStar will become Candid after almost two years of discussions on a merger that has its origins at least a decade in the making. Brad Smith, president of the Foundation Center, will be president of Candid, […]