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Objective

This study investigates whether asking people to make a pledge causes them to donate to a charitable cause and whether the promise of public recognition increases the effectiveness of the request.

Method

A randomized controlled trial in Manchester, United Kingdom, where households were sent letters asking them to donate a book for school libraries in South Africa.

Results

People who are asked to make a pledge and offered local public recognition are more likely to make a book donation than the control group. The combination of requesting a pledge and offering publicity raises book donations from 7.3 percent to 8.9 percent of households, an effect size of 22 percent. Asking people to pledge alone, without the promise of publicity has no statistically significant impact on giving.

Conclusion

Combining a pledge request and the promise of local publicity increases individual charitable donations.