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Brown bag seminar | Does online fundraising increase charitable giving? A nationwide field experiment on Facebook

Welcome to the next SITE brown bag seminar! On 3 October, Dr. Maja Adena will be presenting her working paper entitled 'Does online fundraising increase charitable giving? A nationwide field experiment on Facebook' at SSE. Dr. Maja Adena together with co-author used a Facebook tool for a field experiment in Germany, revealing nuanced findings on donations and advertising.

Working paper title: Does online fundraising increase charitable giving? A nationwide field experiment on Facebook

By: Maja Adena & Anselm Hager


Does online fundraising increase charitable giving? Using the Facebook advertising tool, we implemented a natural field experiment across Germany, randomly assigning almost 8,000 postal codes to Save the Children fundraising videos or to a pure control. We studied changes in the volume and frequency of donations to Save the Children and other charities by postal code. Our design circumvents many shortcomings inherent in studies based on click-through data, especially substitution and measurement issues. We found that (i) video fundraising increased donation frequency and value to Save the Children during the campaign and in the subsequent five weeks; (ii) the campaign was profitable for the fundraiser; and (iii) the effects were similar independent of video content and impression assignment strategy. However, we also found non-negligible crowding out of donations to other similar charities or projects. Finally, we demonstrated that click data are an inappropriate proxy for donations and recommend that managers use careful experimental designs that can plausibly evaluate the effects of advertising on relevant outcomes.

About the speaker

Dr. Maja Adena is a Vice Director of the research unit “Economics of Change” at WZB Berlin Social Science Center [...] Click "Expand" below to learn more

Dr. Adena received her doctoral degree in Economics from the Free University of Berlin and finished the Berlin Doctoral Program in Economics and Management Science in 2013. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Berlin Center for Consumer Policies and was a chairperson of the WZB ethics committee. Dr. Adena's work has been published in leading journals in Economics including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Management Science, and the Journal of Public Economics. She is a CESifo Research Network Fellow.

Dr. Adena’s academic interests are mainly in the field of Public Economics and Behavioral Economics. In particular, she is interested in charitable giving and non-profit organizations carrying out (field) experiments on the optimal design of a fundraising campaign. In the field of Political Economy, she works on persuasion, studying the question of how far the media can influence individual preferences and behavior. Her research is also concerned with poverty and deprivation and its impact on individual well-being.

Learn more about the speaker >>

Interested in attending the SITE brown bag seminar at SSE or online via Zoom?

The link to the seminar will be distributed by invitation only. If you are interested in attending the seminar – please contact site@hhs.se. Follow the instructions below:

  • Type the subject box with “Brown bag seminar *INSERT SEMINAR TITLE*”
  • Indicate your affiliation and field of interest
  • Please also indicate if you want to attend in person or online

For registered applicants, a Zoom link will be provided prior to the event via email with further instructions.

Photo: yizhachok, Shutterstock


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