Masked donors: New study reveals why people make large donations anonymously

May 21, 2013
Masked donors: new study reveals why people make large donations anonymously

New research that studied why people choose to make large donations to charity anonymously has found that it may act as a signal to other donors of the charity's quality. The findings, published today, also show that anonymous gifts rather than public ones induce larger donations from subsequent donors.

Researchers from the University of Bristol's Centre for Market and Public Organisation, studied the anonymous gifts from 70,000 donations made through the Virgin Money Giving website to fundraisers running in the 2010 London Marathon—the biggest single fundraising event in the world.

The team found that anonymous donations made on behalf of runners in the London Marathon account for the majority of larger gifts than public ones. Furthermore, anonymous gifts rather than public ones induce larger donations from subsequent donors who give around four per cent more. The findings also reveal that early donations are more likely to be anonymous than later ones, particularly for the first to a fundraising page.

However, the researchers indicate that the reason why a person may choose to show the amount they have donated but conceal their identity is because it may act as a signal informing others looking to donate of the charity's quality and worthiness. Knowing this to be the case, a who wishes to see the charity succeed may intentionally choose to keep their identity private.

Michael Sanders, one of the authors, said: "Current on the reasons behind anonymous is limited. Our findings indicate that actually a large anonymous gift is viewed by other donors to the 's worthiness. A recent example of this type of phenomenon is the anonymous donation of $200 million to Baylor University in Texas – the largest donation in the University's history – which acted as a signal of prestige for the organisation to other potential donors."

The paper is titled "Masked Heroes: endogenous in charitable giving."

Explore further: Local education politics 'far from dead'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Survey: Most Haiti text donors have given since

Jan 12, 2012

(AP) -- The massive earthquake that devastated Haiti two years ago prompted an outpouring of charitable donations and propelled a new way of giving - through text messages - into the public eye.

Recommended for you

Local education politics 'far from dead'

10 hours ago

Teach for America, known for recruiting teachers, is also setting its sights on capturing school board seats across the nation. Surprisingly, however, political candidates from the program aren't just pushing ...

First grade reading suffers in segregated schools

10 hours ago

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the ...

Why aren't consumers buying remanufactured products?

13 hours ago

Firms looking to increase market share of remanufactured consumer products will have to overcome a big barrier to do so, according to a recent study from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Findings from faculty members ...

Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall

13 hours ago

People learn better and recall more when given the impression that they will soon have to teach newly acquired material to someone else, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Understanding the economics of human trafficking

Jul 28, 2014

Although Europe is one of the strictest regions in the world when it comes to guaranteeing the respect of human rights, the number of people trafficked to or within the EU still amounts to several hundred ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

EyeNStein
1 / 5 (3) May 21, 2013
I would prefer anonymity so that I don't get a years worth of spam e-mail for each donation.
Some charities work is very worthwhile, but their fundraising efforts get worse than 'readers digest' once they get your contact details.