Resource Economics’ Angela de Oliveira Receives $205k NSF Grant to Study In-Kind Charitable Donations

Economist will examine why donors prefer to give – and why organizations accept – non-cash donations
Angela de Oliveira
Angela de Oliveira

Angela de Oliveira, professor of experimental and public economics in the department of resource economics, has received a $205,000 standard grant from the National Science Foundation to study the motives, beliefs and behaviors behind in-kind charitable giving.

de Oliveira says that understanding the motives and beliefs behind in-kind giving is important, because while a significant amount of giving is done via the often inefficient method of in-kind donations, its wastefulness may be addressed with well-designed interventions. She hopes her team’s research will provide information that will help charities increase the efficient use of the gifts they receive, thereby benefitting donors, the recipients of charity services and local communities.

“My co-PIs and I are investigating donations to organizations like food banks and animal shelters,” de Oliveira says. “These are nonprofits who can purchase the items they need more cheaply than a donor can - meaning that a donor could ‘do more good’ by giving the charity $1 directly than buying $1 worth of food or supplies and then donating those items. We are conducting a survey of nonprofits to understand when and why charities choose to accept these in kind donations. We are then examining underlying donor preferences and resulting behavior using laboratory and field experiments.”

Joining de Oliveira as co-principal investigators on the study are Sarah Jacobson of Williams College and Elizabeth Searing of the University at Albany. The grant period runs through August 2022, and more information about the grant can be found on the NSF website.

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