George gives to geology Jane: The name letter effect and incidental similarity cues in fundraising


  • René Bekkers

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Philanthropic Studies, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    2. Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    • Philanthropic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1081, HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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  • People tend to like others with attributes similar to their own (the similarity principle) and favor products with names similar to their own (the name letter effect).

  • In the present field experiment, the name letter effect and similarity principle are tested in a phonaton among alumni of Utrecht University, The Netherlands. First name and surname initials, fields of education, and association memberships of alumni were matched to those of students soliciting contributions in the phonaton.

  • Female alumni with first names and fields of study similar to those of solicitors were more likely to donate, as were male alumni with first names similar to the field of study of solicitors. Both male and female alumni with first names similar to the name of the university donated more often than those with dissimilar names.

  • Name letter effects are a cheap and effective instrument to increase donations in fundraising campaigns conducted by telephone.

Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.