In a recent piece in Columbia Ideas at Work, my colleague Ray Fisman summarizes some research he has done on whether promising to donate a portion of one’s proceeds to charity means more profits for eBay sellers.
Among their findings:
Turns out — based on our eBay evidence — the champions of corporate philanthropy have gotten the story at least half right. Take a Giving Works item advertising that 10 percent of proceeds will be given to charity. It’s nearly 20 percent more likely to sell than its noncharity twin at a price that’s about 2 percent higher. (Items where 100 percent is donated to charity — hardly a sustainable business strategy — are nearly 50 percent more likely to sell and result in sales prices that are 6 percent higher).
They also found that sellers new to eBay benefitted more than experienced sellers. He hypothesizes that this is due to the signal of trustworthiness sent by being engaged with charity.