Polarization in Environmental Donations: Application to Deforestation-Prevention Donation

Dede Long, Hongxing Liu and Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr.


One common fundraising strategy used by nonprofit organizations is providing information to persuade potential donors. We theoretically and empirically analyze how information affects people’s willingness to donate. Our theory suggests when people have different initial beliefs, new information leads to polarization through their understanding and rationalization of social norms. We provide empirical support using an online experiment, demonstrating that environmental and public health information leads to polarization in deforestation prevention donations. Being exposed to information opposite of individuals’ existing beliefs reinforces their current opinions. Our results emphasize that implementing information treatment calls for careful deliberation.

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