Working Paper 14/329 - abstract

Masked Heroes: endogenous anonymity in charitable giving (PDF, 864kB)

Mike 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 a large dataset of donations on behalf of runners in the London Marathon. We find not only that are anonymous donations likely to be larger than public ones, but that those who follow an anonymous donation donate around 4% more than had the same preceding donation been public. Our main contribution is to explain this phenomenon through a signalling model, where foregoing prestige through anonymity signals the charity's quality.