Posts

2019

  • An oversimplified argument for why "Virtue Signaling" is a good thing.

    “These people are just virtue signaling”; in the popular internet discourse this has come to mean “these people are just doing a useless activity to impress their friends”. But there is a stronger argument that “virtue signaling” is a good thing… People to do good for a social reward is how our society works (Adam Smith Institute’s Bowman makes a similar point). An oversimplified explanation from Economics/game theory: “Signaling” can only work if the action that sends the signal conveys information about an individual’s type For it to be informative, only those who are virtuous must want to do the action that sends the signal Thus it must be more costly for the baddies to do this action than for the goodies.

  • A corporate skills bake sale?

    Large companies generously offer to support employee ‘pro-bono’ work and volunteer work, offering set-aside days and even donations matching hours; (documented in my “innovationsinfundraising.org” database here). They are in general more willing to do this than to donate directly, or to match employee contributions. However, there is often a skills mismatch; few people can be as productive when volunteering for a charity as they are in their main job (although orgs like BeyondMe try to improve things).

  • A bridge towards open-access

    Has anyone ever considered… Asking existing (e.g.) Elsevier academic editors to take a ‘pledge’ to handle and review papers for ‘journal equivalents’; e.g., I agree to handle submissions, and send this out to reviewers who will review this as if it were an article submitted to Nature, and if it makes it through the peer review process it will be published on an open-access site with the certification “This paper has been peer reviewed and accepted as of equivalent quality to a paper published in Nature”.

2018

  • The 'human fund' question

    Got this email: Subject: Donations to charity in someone’s name as a gift Who is the giver in this case? - Sent from my iPad My thoughts: Yeah, I’ve wondered that myself. I suppose the receiver of the gift has the right to be considered the ‘giver of the charitable donation.’ At least if it was in lieu of a birthday/wedding gift etc. Because they have ‘sacrificed’ their normal present for the charity.

  • Inheritance (tax) and charitable bequests: an intergenerational pact?

    …Key points from my response to the Charity Tax Commission call for evidence Inheritance Tax Leaving a part or an entire estate to a charity can reduce or eliminate an Inheritance Tax liability as it will not count towards the total taxable value of an estate. An Inheritance Tax liability can also be reduced from 40% to 36%, if 10% of a ‘net estate’ is left to a charity in a will.

  • A Discussion of the UK's "Gift Aid"

    …Key points from my response to the Charity Tax Commission call for evidence Gift Aid Gift Aid allows charities to claim tax relief – 25p in the pound – on gifts and donations made by UK taxpayers. If the donor is a 40 per cent taxpayer, further tax relief of 20 per cent (the difference between the current higher rate of income tax of 40 per cent and the current basic rate of tax of 20 per cent) can be claimed by the donor themselves (not by the charity).

  • What forms of tax relief should the charities themselves get?

    Key points from my response to the Charity Tax Commission call for evidence Value Added Tax (VAT) …Most of the charities that charge for their services are unable to recover input VAT because their services are exempt (estimated to cost £1.5bn a year). VAT relief was worth approximately £400m to charities in 2016-17. I will asses this from the perspective of a policymaker considering we are considering how to aid charities/charitable causes, rather than how much to aid them.

  • Should there be tax relief/gift aid for charitable donations? Does it even promote more giving? This is not known.

    Key points from my response to the Charity Tax Commission call for evidence Should there be tax relief/gift aid for charitable donations? Does it even promote more giving? This is not known. Presumably the main argument for offering tax relief and Gift Aid is that this promotes more giving, i.e., convinces people to donate more from their own pockets, to take advantage of these benefits. Much economic research in fact considers how the amount people choose to give responds to the so-called ‘tax-price’ of giving (the amount of after-tax income an individual must give up in order for the charity to gain £1).

  • Should the government be subsidising charitable giving?

    Key points from my response to the Charity Tax Commission call for evidence Justifications for the government to fund good causes through the mechanism of ‘donation-driven subsidies’ rather than the standard democratic policy process; counter-arguments There is a broader public policy and philosophical question about whether the government should be subsidising charitable giving. Even if the elasticity does not meet the ‘gold standard’, and it would be less costly for the government to directly fund the charities, one might still argue that it is better that these resources and this process is occurring through voluntary action.

  • The taxman asked us to weigh in

    So, I’m weighing in. The Charity Tax Commission is having a ‘call for evidence.' I’m planning to submit the answers HERE. This is a combination of my off-the-cuff insights, and elements drawn from research as discussed at innovationsinfundraising.org. Please add comments – tell me why I’m wrong.

  • The taxman asked us to weigh in

    So, I’m weighing in. The Charity Tax Commission is having a ‘call for evidence.' I’m planning to submit the answers HERE. This is a combination of my off-the-cuff insights, and elements drawn from research as discussed at innovationsinfundraising.org. Please add comments – tell me why I’m wrong.

  • Employee Giving incentives: A shared database... why?

    At innovationsinfundraising.org we’ve put together a (collaborative, living) database of information on what each of the firms in the FTSE100 do to encourage and support employee charitable giving. Do they ‘match’ employee donations, and if so what are the rules for this (caps, maximums, restrictions)? Do they have a ‘Payroll Giving’ scheme set up, and if so who administers it, and how do they promote it? Does the company endorse a particular charity or set of charities, and if so how do they choose this?

  • InnovationsInFundraising.org Progress

    Building innovationsinfundraising.org as a hub and wiki for researchers and practitioners trying to get a handle on the scientific evidence on what motivates giving to the most effective charities. Collaboration (esp. in academia) can be difficult; it can work because we have a shared interest in the impact and outcomes. We’ve just added a massive amount of content and organization: check out the “tools page”, for example, and please add your comments.

2017

  • RA Jobs (Exeter Students): Innovations in (EA) Fundraising ESRC Impact project

    I’m hiring for two exciting positions helping to promote the impact of research into fundraising for effective charitable giving. This ESRC-funded project is in collaboration with the Centre for Effective Altruism. You must be a University of Exeter student (UG or PG). This is a Student Campus partner role, for seven hours per week (flexible) from now through April. Research and Communications Assistant: Innovations in (Effective Altruism) Fundraising This calls for a good writer/researcher with an attention to detail, good communication skills, an outgoing and entrepreneurial spirit, and an interest in charitable giving, behavioural economics, and research impact.

2016

  • Times (UK): 'Jam tomorrow is easier to give away'

    A nice mention in the Times. Generosity increases dramatically if people are asked to donate tomorrow’s bonus or inheritance cheque rather than money they already have, academics have found. Once people have the cash in their hand, or know it is in their bank account, they are more reluctant to let go of it. The study by the University of Exeter business school could influence how charities approach fundraising.

  • Progress on bonus giving and giveifyouwin.org

    It seems our work is starting to have some traction. We worked with the Behavioural Insights team and City Philanthropy in 2012 and they put out this “Call for City firms to help Cabinet Office research into ‘windfall’ giving” (link fixed) highlighting our research. In June, they followed up with a “1% Bonus Pledge Think Tank”. Hopefully more is to come. Suggestions welcome, of course. (see also: giveifyouwin.org)

  • Should you hedge your bets on a Brexit?

    What you can do right now to reduce your risk from Thursday’s vote There is a great deal of uncertainty over the likelihood, and consequences, of the vote on 23 June. However, disagreement is mainly over the magnitude of what will happen in the long run, and not over the direction things will move right away. Most economists believe that ‘markets are efficient’ at least in a certain sense that they reflect the consensus of expectations.

  • ESSExLab innovations and new capacities; partnering with experimenters

    Within the next 1-2 months ESSExLab (University of Essex, directed by Simone Dietrich and managed by Patrick Lown) will be building several new capacities: Recruitment: Conducting a large mail/postal recruitment drive (about 5000 letters/emails) to attract non-student experimental participants in the Colchester area, focusing on lower-income residents. Omnibus: Paying those who sign up (plus thousands of student subjects) to complete an online ‘Omnibus survey’ including demographic questions, standard measures of economic, psychological, and political preferences, attitudes, and beliefs, as well as a charitable giving component.

  • Seeking partners for charitable-giving trials and innovations

    As academics we hope that our research has the potential to go beyond the ivory tower and have an impact on the world, and in turn, we want to learn from real-world practitioners. This has always been important to me, and I have recently been awarded ESRC funding to to pursue and promote this. In particular, I am seeking to implement fundraising innovations – such as ‘give if you win’ and ‘opt-out social recognition’ – in a variety of contexts, while rigorously testing their efficacy and impact.

2015

  • Article in TheConversation

    Should governments enable price discrimination by income? Firms and lower-income consumers would likely benefit. This article was written jointly with Owen Southam, with contributions from Rasif Alakbarov and Harry Masters. After some back-and-forth with the editors I think we converged on a piece that is readable to the layperson, without mis-stating the economics.

  • Let Them Eat OpportunityCards: a new policy tool that may reduce inequality

    Governments have unique private information about individual incomes. This suggests a new policy tool: consumers can be offered an “OpportunityCard” certifying their income, and firms can be allowed to price­ discriminate on this basis. This is politically appealing: it should reduce consumption inequality through the use of market mechanisms, rather than through taxes and spending. However, the efficiency consequences are theoretically ambiguous. I propose a pilot field experiment to provide empirical evidence on output, efficiency, and practical issues.

2013

  • Venn diagramming my research (interests)

    I think my research evolves from the nexus of questions I am interested in (interest), things that I think I can say something about (opportunity), and things that other people seem to like (external value), with the priority in that order. However, when people ask ‘what is your research about’ I try to categorize it ex-post. So, here are some attempts at Venn diagrams explaining this. Some things are left intentionally vague because I can’t “give away the milk for free”.

2012

  • Tips for Men's Health Marathon Runners on Fundraising

    Notes on marathon fundraising, what we have evidence for, speculations on what might work, and other comments - Dr. David Reinstein, University of Essex, August 2012 Why do we ask people to donate particularly when we are running a marathon, and why not so much at other times? Could you ask your friends to give in honour of your holiday in Greece? Economists wonder why there is such a strong link between running marathons and charitable giving.

  • Pet peeves

    Talking about “Rational” versus “Irrational” behaviour or people … it is not an either/or and “irrational” is a black box The redundant term “Causal Effect” -- I’m against the use of the phrase “causal effect” or “causal impact” as this is completely redundant, and a bit holier-than-thou. An “effect” of something is by definition “causal”. Just say “impact” or “effect”. Saying “External validity” as an either/or (I prefer “generalizability”) Saying “chickenburger” instead of “Chicken Hamburger”; Chocoholic instead of “chocolate addict” … etc.

2011

2010

  • Policy essays from a young nerd

    Check out the new link to an early essay on my research page. Apparently, I’ve been in this business too long…

  • (research) Losing Face -- Working Paper up! Qn. to reader. Ariely's mis-use of "Yenta".

    The wait is over… the “Losing Face” working paper (co-author David Hugh-Jones) is up (click here). In it, we ask the reader: Which of scenarios below would likely cause you more psychological pain? 1. A friend or colleague to whom you have not expressed interest informs you, in talking about her tastes in men, that she wouldn’t go out with you because you are not “her type.” She gives no indication that she knows you are interested in her.

  • Looking for charities for fundraising experiments

    We (myself and several colleagues in economics and psychology) are currently planning and running experiments involving social influences on giving, reputation effects, and commitments to give “bonus income”. We may be able help you learn more about your donors, and improve your fundraising. If you think your organization might be interested in participating, please contact me at daaronr at essex.ac.uk. For more information see: the science of workplace giving – experiments

  • (related journalism) FP on giving to disasters

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/08/19/why_doesnt_the_world_care_about_pakistanis?page=0,2

  • (related journalism) Donors want tangible impact.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/business/global/09kiva.html?_r=3&scp=1&sq=Kiva&st=cse

  • (journalism) What does the stock market tell us about the plan?

    Insurance Stocks Rise on News of Health Care Deal; What’s It Mean?

  • (journalism) Does one disaster crowd out another?

    Nicholas Kristof asks, bunch of people comment…

  • (clip) A nonverifiable action

    One Froggy Evening History of the music http://froggyeve.tripod.com/wildabout.html Michigan rag - original recording

  • My try at "knowledge transfer" to Telegraph readers

    Meddling in UK politics (8 months ago) to promote our paper. Hoped the minor flattery and salacious phrases would get “Sir Telegraph” to publish the letter. Does anyone know if there is a trick to getting these things published? Suggested header: “Transparency is not always best” Sir: In the view of your editors, “transparency is best” (Telegraph’s View, MPs' expenses: transparency is best, Published: 8:13AM GMT 21 Dec 2009), when it comes to the perks and expense of elected officials.

  • (Evolutionary) game theory and equilibrium

    So, I have heard third-hand from the “in crowd” that evolutionary game theory in economics is “dead.” Is this because of any logical or empirical failure, any strong argument why it should not apply to economics (e.g., the survival of firms) or because it doesn’t isn’t generating the kind of clever and tricky predictions that journals like to publish? … thinking about our discussion on Dave Hugh-Jones blogspot page.

  • Seeking partners for charitable-giving trials and innovations

    As academics we hope that our research has the potential to go beyond the ivory tower and have an impact on the world, and in turn, we want to learn from real-world practitioners. This has always been important to me, and I have recently been awarded ESRC funding to to pursue and promote this. In particular, I am seeking to implement fundraising innovations – such as ‘give if you win’ and ‘opt-out social recognition’ – in a variety of contexts while rigorously testing their efficacy and impact.

  • David Reinstein Personal Pages

    Welcome to my personal pages. David Reinstein can be contacted via email drein [at] essex.ac.uk or via telephone number +44 (0) 1206 87 3518 Please see About for a brief description of my work. My research interests are also listed. A brief Curriculum Vitae can be found here. The full CV is posted here or can be found at the top right corner. For specific information I have included a list of published and working papers, and their abstracts.