Economists Spurn Conventional Wisdom to Boost Fundraising


The Chronicle of Philanthropy, April 07, 2013


When Brian Mullaney was head of Smile Train, a big children’s charity, he asked John List, a University of Chicago economist, to help him find a better way to recruit donors through direct mail. He was stunned by Mr. List’s response: “Promise people that if they make a donation, you’ll never ask them for money again,” the economist advised.

Mr. List helped Mr. Mullaney develop a test mailing that allowed people to check a box saying they did not want to be asked again for a contribution.

“Did I think it was a crazy idea? Absolutely,” Mr. Mullaney recalls. “But response just soared.”

read more