Research on Giving


The research agenda of the Proven Impact Initiative is two-fold: to further our scientific understanding of giving, and to learn how to better guide individual donors toward making smart, evidence-based decisions.  By engaging in research of our own operations and those of others, we aim to improve both the quality and quantity of information available to donors.  Such research enables us to constantly improve the Proven Impact Initiative by learning how best to communicate aid effectiveness, to influence donors and to guide resources to proven ideas. 

So what’s on the research agenda?

  • Most solicitations make emotional appeals, employing effective methods like the "identifiable victim."   Although we predict that employing an identifiable victim will prevail as a fundraising strategy for most organizations, the question remains: can information on program effectiveness influence the giving patters of individual donors?  Is it possible to combine the two approaches? 
  • How do different types of donors respond to appeals that employ rigorous evidence?
  • Can appeals to donors successfully explain why accounting data on administrative expenses are imperfect indicators of organizational impact?
  • How will IPA’s information about impact influence donations to other organizations?


Featured Research Project: 

The Effect of Matching Ratios on Charitable Giving in the United States

Through this research, economists Dean Karlan and John List investigated the impact of matching gifts on charitable donations.  They partnered with a nonprofit which agreed to randomly offer different leadership gifts ratios to different individuals. They found that a match offer increases both the revenue per solicitation and the response rate.  However, larger match ratios (i.e., $3:$1 and $2:$1) relative to a smaller match ratio ($1:$1) had no additional impact.
Empowered by:
Copyright © 2011 Innovations for Poverty Action. All rights reserved.