One of my housemates is very passionate about a charity called Giving What We Can and he along with some other people has set up a Giving What We Can Warwick group here on campus. The idea of this charity is a very interesting one and one that I can never quite make my mind up about. They want to make giving to charity easier by encouraging members to donate 10% of their income to the charities that they believe will be the most effective in helping those living in poverty. This is done by providing information about the most cost-effective charities and by constantly doing research into what charities can be deemed as cost-effective.
After my housemate told me about a talk by the founder last year I have felt cautious of the structure of the charity. I felt that the “warm cuddly feeling” of giving to charity was being taken away by turning everything into numbers. Over the last year he has got increasingly involved and passionate about the charity and I have become increasingly suspicious of the techniques. I have been mainly concerned with the fact that it is not really possible to calculate the impact of charities that support political change as you cannot measure the number of lives saved. But then this year the Giving What We Can Warwick group ran a donation campaign by agreeing to match any donations up to £4000 with money out of their own pocket. After reaching this target they then announced that they would be matching up to another £2000. This target was reached bringing their total to £6000 matched so that is a huge amount of £12000 raised for Against Malaria Foundation!
The whole thing is documented in these two videos:
When I heard that they were going to match every donation made I forgot all about my reservations of choosing the most cost-effective charity and began spreading the word through facebook statuses and by word of mouth. During this period of time I found myself constantly selling the idea of how cost-effective Against Malaria Foundation are with £5 providing a mosquito net for two people for 5 years. This matching scheme signifies my largest donation to charity that does not provide me with a product or a specific experience in return.
Research has shown that offering to match charity donations increases the amount of giving (Eckel & Grossman, 2003). In a study by Eckel and Grossman (2003) participants were given a list of charities to offer a donation to and they used a rebate subsidy and a matching subsidy that shouldn’t affect the level of giving as it presented the participants with the same net cost of giving to the charity. However, the results showed that the donations were significantly higher when the donations were matched. This provides support for the persuasive technique of matching donations given to a charity to increase the amount of giving.
This is one persuasive technique I don’t mind being affected by!
Eckel, C. C., & Grossman, P. J. (2003). Rebate versus matching: does how we subsidize charitable contributions matter?. Journal of Public Economics, 87(3), 681-701.