Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Relational Altruism and Giving in Social Groups

Author(s): Kimberley Scharf and Sarah Smith

Publication Date: June 2016

Keyword(s): altruism, Charity, Donations, fundraising, Online giving and Social groups

Programme Area(s): Public Economics

Abstract: Much fundraising is done by individuals within existing social groups. Exploiting a unique dataset, we demonstrate (i) a positive relationship between social group size and the number of donations; (ii) a negative relationship between group size and the size of individual donations; (iii) no clear relationship between group size and the total amount raised. Free riding with respect to the activity being funded cannot explain the relationship between group size and donation size, since the number of social group members is only a subset of total contributors. Instead, the findings are consistent with the notion that giving in social groups is motivated by "relational altruism"?.

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Bibliographic Reference

Scharf, K and Smith, S. 2016. 'Relational Altruism and Giving in Social Groups'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.