Peer effects in charitable giving: Evidence from the (running) field

Sarah L Smith, Frank Windmeijer, Edmund W Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)
454 Downloads (Pure)


There is a widespread belief that peer effects are important in charitable giving, but little evidence on how donors respond to their peers. Analysing a unique dataset of donations to online fundraising pages, we find positive and sizeable peer effects: a £10 increase in the mean of past donations increases giving by £2.50, on average. Donations respond to both very large and very small amounts and to changes in the mode. We find little evidence that donations signal charity quality – our preferred explanation is that donors use information on earlier donations to decide what is appropriate for them to give.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1071
Number of pages19
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number585
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


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