Working Paper 13/303 - abstract

Masked Heroes: endogenous anonymity in charitable giving (PDF, 903kB)

Mike W. Peacey and Michael Sanders

Previous work on anonymous donations has looked almost exclusively at exogenous anonymity. This study considers endogenous anonymity, approaching it from two angles. We present stylised facts of anonymous giving, drawn from large dataset of donations on behalf of runners in the London Marathon, finding that not only are anonymous donations quite likely to be larger than public ones, but that those who follow an anonymous donation donate around 4% more than had the same donation been made publicly. Our main contribution is to explain this phenomenon through a signalling model, where foregoing prestige through anonymity signals the charity's quality.