DP11333 Relational Altruism and Giving in Social Groups

Author(s): Kimberley Scharf, Sarah Smith
Publication Date: June 2016
Keyword(s): altruism, Charity, Donations, fundraising, Online giving, Social groups
JEL(s): D64, H31, Z1
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11333

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"?.