Whether it’s about asking or giving, effective professionals and volunteers rely on rules of thumb and well-worn conventions to get the job done. Experience, after all, has been a trusted teacher for eons. What can science add that is so special?
First, science uncovers general patterns that span more experiences than any one person or institution can have. Experiments are the gold standard of science, and John List has used them to demonstrate that matches work to increase the likelihood of a gift and its size. Does the proportion of the match matter? Will a 2-to-1 or even 3-to-1 match yield better results than a 1-1 match?
If you are curious, you can attend the Science of Philanthropy Initiative Conference this September 21 and 22 and ask John List, who is not only a prominent member of the University of Chicago Economics Faculty but also Visiting Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Joining John in organizing the conference are his colleague Christopher Clapp from the University of Chicago, Luigi Butera from Copenhagen Business School, Sarah Konrath, Mark Ottoni-Wilhem, Richard Steinberg, and myself from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. There will be three terrific keynote speakers, beginning with Cecilia Conrad, of Lever for Change and the MacArthur Foundation, who is a leading practitioner but also an award-winning researcher in her own right. Daniel Hungerman an economist from Notre Dame, is an expert on philanthropy and religion. Finally, Azim Shariff from the University of British Columbia is a social psychologist who researches how morality intersects with religion, cultural attitudes, and economics. They will be joined by scholars sharing their latest research and practitioners keen to engage in systematic approaches to the practices they have implemented in the field.