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EMAC 2023 Annual

Donate Your Work: A Practical Solution for Charities to Increase Donor Responsiveness

Published: May 24, 2023


Robert Smith, Tilburg University; John Costello, Notre Dame; Alixandra Barasch, University of Colorado Boulders


People like the idea of volunteering, but these donations of time involve challenges for both the donor and the charity. In contrast, monetary donations are often more desirable for charities, but donating money usually does not give donors the same sense of personal connection as volunteering time. We provide charities with a simple yet effective strategy to solve this asymmetry by making donations of money feel more like donations of time. Specifically, asking people to “donate a day’s work” where their take-home pay from a day’s work at their job is donated to the charity, significantly increases donations relative to a conventional request for the same amount of money. Six studies (including two field studies partnered with actual charities) demonstrate that asking people to donate their work increases donation rates and amounts, and this occurs because it makes the requested donation feel both smaller and more representative of the donor.