This report describes insights gleaned from the Data Fellows collaboration among PayPal, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the Golub Capital Social Impact Lab at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and ImpactMatters. By embedding researchers in PayPal’s charitable giving team, we co-designed and executed experiments to generate generalizable knowledge about donor behavior. This report describes the results of several experiments focused on two main questions: First, does information about the cost-effectiveness, or “impact,” of a charity increase donations? Second, does asking for micro-donations lead to even more giving after the micro-giving moment, or less?
To the first question, we find, across different contexts and for both well-known and lesser-known charities, that cost-effectiveness information increases micro-donations. Regarding the second question, we find that frequent requests for $1 donations in an online checkout environment increase (i.e., “crowd-in”) future, more deliberative giving by about 9% over the baseline, on average, where the increase is attributed to more frequent giving rather than larger donations per transaction. We discuss the implications of these findings for nonprofits and platforms trying to improve charitable giving.