Meet your Match
Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2008
Economists Dean Karlan and John A. List recently made a deal with an unnamed national nonprofit: They would lend the organization their expertise in study design and data analysis if the nonprofit would let them turn its upcoming direct mail fundraising campaign into a big field experiment. Using the campaign as a laboratory, the economists explored whether, why, how, and for whom matching grants work.
Their results were as subtle as their methods: Matching grants do increase donations for some people, but not for the reasons most economists think, they report in the December 2007 issue of the American Economic Review.