Do Donors Care about Subsidy Type? An Experimental Study

Experiments Investigating Fundraising and Charitable Contributors

ISBN: 978-0-76231-301-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-406-5

ISSN: 0193-2306

Publication date: 7 July 2006


An individual should be indifferent between a rebate subsidy of rate sr and a matching subsidy of rate sm=sr/(1-sr), and the total amount received by the charity should be the same regardless of subsidy type. Recent laboratory and field experiments contradict these straightforward predictions of standard economic theory: subjects consistently make decisions that result in larger amounts going to the charity under a matching subsidy than under an equivalent rebate subsidy. This paper tests whether this result is due to rebate-aversion – a preference by donors for a match over a rebate subsidy. Consistent with theory, we find no significant preference for one or the other subsidy scheme. However, we do find that, as in previous studies, participants selecting the matching subsidy made decisions that resulted in approximately twice the donations of participants selecting the rebate subsidy donated.


Eckel, C. and Grossman, P. (2006), "Do Donors Care about Subsidy Type? An Experimental Study", Isaac, R. and Davis, D. (Ed.) Experiments Investigating Fundraising and Charitable Contributors (Research in Experimental Economics, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 157-175.

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