Messer & Fooks’ Research with Delaware Wild Lands

DWLWith the holiday season just around the corner and charitable giving on people’s minds, new research from the University of Delaware suggests that for organizations interested in increasing the number of givers and the amount of donations, the solution might be as easy as making a simple change in how charitable gifts are made.

For the past three years, as part of their course requirements, 190 of Kent Messer’s undergraduate students have attended a guest lecture presented by Kate Hackett, executive director of Delaware Wild Lands (DWL).

Following the lecture, Messer, the Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair for the Environment, director of the Center for Experimental and Applied Economics and co-director of the Center for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Research in the University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), has explained to the students that as part of a research study, they would have an opportunity to make a charitable donation to DWL using the students’ class earnings from earlier in the semester.

Messer would then divide the class into two groups: the donation group and the refund group.

The donation group was given their money in cash and asked by Messer how much, if anything at all, they would like to donate to DWL.

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