Polarization in environmental donations – application to deforestation prevention donation

Dede Long, Hongxing Liu and Rodolfo M. Nayga


One common fund-raising strategy employed by non-profit organizations is through the provision of information to persuade potential donors. We theoretically and empirically analyze how information affects people’s willingness to donate (WTD). 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 the implementation of information treatment calls for careful deliberation.