Communication Science Master Thesis 2017

Motivations for Charitable Giving

René Bekkers,

Charitable giving to help people in need is a form of philanthropy that is likely to be motivated by many factors (Bekkers & Wiepking, 2011). In addition to altruistic values – concern for the needs and wellbeing of recipients of donations, conformity to social norms, and the desire to influence the well-being of others are important. Under my supervision you will collect data from online experiments that generate new evidence on motivations for charitable giving.

This year I can supervise two students writing their thesis. Below are two examples of thesis projects. If you have good ideas for other research projects on charitable giving, volunteering, organ donation or other forms of prosocial behavior, you are very welcome to send them to me. I particularly value ideas for field experiments. We will then make an appointment to discuss them.

One thesis will conduct a meta-analysis of experiments on charitable giving. All experimental studies on charitable giving published in academic journals and edited books since 2007 will be collected and classified. Standardized effect sizes for eight mechanisms will be meta-analyzed.

Another thesis will use data from new field experiments with donations to charity, testing the most promising manipulations reported in recent research (e.g., Gneezy, Keenan & Gneezy, 2015; Smeets, Bauer & Gneezy, 2015; Hsee, Zhang, Lu & Xu, 2013).

At the Center for Philanthropic Studies we work according to the principles of open science. This means that the hypotheses you will test and the research design you will use must be preregistered before the data collection and analysis begins and that the data and the code for the analysis will be made publicly available.

If you are interested to write a thesis under my supervision, write me an email explaining your ideas.



Bekkers, R. & Wiepking, P. (2011). A Literature Review of Empirical Studies of Philanthropy: Eight Mechanisms that Drive Charitable Giving. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 40(5): 924‐973. DOI: 10.1177/0899764010380927

Gneezy, U., Keenan, E.A., & Gneezy, A. (2015). Avoiding overhead aversion in charity. Science, 346: 632-635. DOI: 10.1126/science.1253932

Hsee, K. C., Zhang, J., Lu, Z. Y. & Xu, F. (2013). Unit Asking: A Method to Boost Donations and Beyond. Psychological Science, 24(9), 1801-1808. DOI: 10.1177/0956797613482947

Smeets, P., Bauer, R., and Uri Gneezy, U. (2015). Giving behavior of millionaires. PNAS, 112 (34): 10641–10644. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1507949112