How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

(Photo: London looks)

(Photo: London looks)

Our latest podcast is called “How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player in the post. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

In this podcast you’ll hear the economist John List, who is no stranger to this blog’s readers, give us the gospel of fundraising — what works, what doesn’t, and why. List and economist Uri Gneezy write about the science of charitable giving in their new book The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life (which you all helped name, sort of). Gneezy has also appeared previously on Freakonomics Radio, in our podcast “Women Are Not Men,” describing his research on gender and competition in Africa and India.

In this episode, List gives us a lot of ideas about how to successfully raise money — like using good old-fashioned guilt, for instance. (It’s hard to say no when a Girl Scout knocks at your door, and not just because Thin Mints are delicious.) Also, people love winning prizes, so attaching a lottery or raffle to your fund-raising effort is a good idea. There’s also a herd mentality: people are more inclined to donate if they hear their friends are donating.

Freakonomics_Donate_Chalkboard_contest_smallHere’s our favorite way that List says you can raise more money:  get an attractive person, preferably a woman, to do the asking for you. From the podcast:

DUBNER: Give me a sense of how big this beauty effect is. So let’s say one solicitor is ranked a 9 out of 10 by unbiased or disinterested parties and one is ranked a 6. How much more does the 9 raise than the 6?

LIST: Right, you’re looking at roughly a 100 percent increase when you look at going from a 6 to a 9.

As it happens, this episode also marks the first time that Freakonomics Radio is asking you, our readers and listeners, to donate to help keep our podcast/public-radio show going strong. So we try out a few of List’s tips. We dare you not to donate once you hear from certified-attractive people like Savannah Saunders, a Swarthmore student, Wilhelmina model, and ardent Freakonomics fan. You’ll also hear Adrian Grenier, the actor and director best known for playing Vincent Chase on Entourage, turn on his good-looking mojo for the Freakonomics cause. If they don’t do it for you, Steve Levitt appears in this episode, too.

(Photo: Howard Lake)

(Photo: Howard Lake)

And if you are immune to the beauty effect, we have some brand-new swag to entice you: a  Freakonomics Radio t-shirt, a  mug, signed books, and — best of all — a chance to win a trip to New York City to hang out with Stephen Dubner and the whole Freakonomics Radio crew. Just click the button on this page that says “donate now” and you’ll be entered to win. You don’t even have to make a donation to enter the contest, but of course we hope you will. If you do win, you’ll have lunch with Stephen Dubner, visit us at our home station, WNYC, and see how we put together out podcast. We’re excited to meet one lucky listener very soon!

Oh, and one last thing: John List told us to tell you guys that if you don’t donate, the show might go away. But, as Dubner says:

DUBNER: I’m uncomfortable saying that. That feels like give us money or we’ll kill your kitten.

So I’ll say it: donate today and nobody hurts the kitten.*

*No kittens were harmed or will be harmed in the making of this radio show. As for the next episode … well, stay tuned.

Audio Transcript

[MUSIC: The Diplomats of Solid Sound, “Growin’ In It” (from Destination... Get Down!)]


Stephen J. DUBNER: Steve Levitt is my Freakonomics friend and co-author. He teaches at the University of Chicago.


DUBNER: Hey, Levitt so we are going to do something today that we’ve never done before on this program, which is beg. We’ve been putting out this podcast for I think almost 4 years, all free, and now we are going to ask people for some support. What do you think of that idea? Is that nuts?


Steve LEVITT: Good luck.


DUBNER: (laughs!)


LEVITT: Sorry to give things away for free and then ask for money later.


DUBNER: So Levitt, you’ve worked with some nonprofits trying to raise money, what's a good response rate? Let’s say I send out 1,000 mailers trying to raise money to help poor children around the world, what’s a good response rate?


LEVITT: So if you are sending those out cold to people who have never given you money before I think something like 1%, 10 out of 1000 would be a really good number.


DUBNER: But our audience is a little bit different, right, anybody who is listening to this is not a cold call, so if we were to ask people to send money to make Freakonomics Radio and keep it free, what kind of response rate do you think we’d get here?


LEVITT: You know, what’s hard here is that the mechanism for getting people to send is more difficult. I would say once a day someone comes up to me and says, hey I love the Freakonomics podcast I listen to it while I jog or while I work out in the gym. I think if you could actually get someone in mid jog or on the bike at the gym to be able to press a button and send money directly to us, I think you’d actually do ok. The chance that someone’s going to get done with their run, go back and take a shower, and then log onto a computer and give you money? I think that is really close to zero.


DUBNER: So, you think we’ll raise close to zero dollars?


LEVITT: I do, actually.


DUBNER: So, can I just tell you, listener, not Steve Levitt, this is a fantastic opportunity to prove a relatively smart person totally wrong.


LEVITT: Prove me wrong. I love to be proved wrong.






ANNOUNCER: From WNYC: This is FREAKONOMICS RADIO, the podcast that explores the hidden side of everything. Here’s your host, Stephen Dubner.


[MUSIC: James King, “Understand”]


DUBNER: Here’s something I’d like you to try. During the course of the next day, or week or month, whatever, keep track of how many different people and institutions come at you, in one way or another, with their hands out. Asking for a donation. They might be raising money to fight pediatric cancer, to protect a forest, or to get some maverick politician elected. (Or, even to make a podcast.) Now, why do so many people come at us with their hands out? Because it works! Americans are an extraordinarily charitable people:


John LIST: When you look at the data what you find is that all the way back to 1971, people are giving about 2 to 2.5 percent of their wallets. So what I mean by that is about 2.2 percent of personal income is given to charitable causes. So when you look at the data you have this feeling that wow Americans tend to give a ton of money. And when you look from 1971 to 2011, our giving rates have gone up by about twelvefold.


[MUSIC: Donvision, “Waiting For You”]


DUBNER:  That’s John List. He, like Steve Levitt, is an economist at the University of Chicago. He’s done a lot of research, and a lot of experiments, on fund-raising. He’s tried to figure out, empirically, what really works. Fund-raising is one of those things – like education, or dating – where there is a massive amount of conventional wisdom, a lot of habits and tradition, but not much science.


LIST: What you have is a lack of strong statistical support that backs up exactly what those people are doing. So you say well why in the world do they do it? They do it because that’s what their boss told them to do. And in effect they do it so then if things go wrong they won’t get in trouble.


DUBNER: John List is trying to change that kind of conventional, defensive thinking. He and another economist, Uri Gneezy, have just published a book called The Why Axis  -- that’s “Why” as in W-H-Y. As in why do people do the things that they do – like, giving away money. What could possibly make us give away more than 2 percent of everything we earn?


LIST: So when you think about why all this money is given, the economist in me naturally says well what are the incentives for why people might give. And I think the traditional feeling is that people tend to give because of altruism. People just want to help another person who is not as well off as they are.


DUBNER: I have a feeling you’re going to tell us that that’s not as much of a driver as people would like to think.


LIST: You know, as the data would suggest, now we’ve done these experiments all the way back to 1998, and we’re still very actively doing experiments with several charities now, what you tend to find is that people are more driven out of pure self-interest. And what I mean by that is that people give because it gives them a warm feeling, as economists say, or as Jim Andreoni would say, people derive a warm glow from giving. So now what you have is this idea that if you want to expand your donor base, or if you want to induce people to give more money, you should really now be appealing to hey here’s what this can do for you, or if you don’t give today this will actually be taken away and you will no longer be able to use it, rather than appeal to, say you know what, you can help this poor person over there. I think fundraisers for years have gotten it wrong, that they need to appeal more to the actual donor rather than the recipient of those dollars.


DUBNER: So first of all the first two incentives that you’ve just named, one would be we’ll call it pure altruism, and number two would be impure, or we’ll call it warm glow altruism; I know that’s what you economists often call it. And you’re saying that while people often think that pure altruism is the primary driver, but warm glow altruism is a much stronger driver. Let me just ask you this, there’s nothing wrong with that is there?


LIST: No. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. As an economist, I really don’t’ care why people give.


DUBNER: Yeah you care that you know the real reason so that you can appeal to that right?


LIST: Absolutely. What I care about is people giving, because it’s very important to have private organizations provide the great public goods that we have all over the world. So it’s important to know exactly what drives a donor to give and what keeps that donor committed to the cause. Once we know that we can be more successful in our fundraising drives and then we can provide more public goods, or more of these goods that the government or private markets fail to provide.


DUBNER: What about a couple other incentives to give? I’m thinking let’s call it guilt or social pressure, maybe.


LIST: Right, so these other reasons why we might give such as social pressures, or guilt, these are very powerful as well. Things like a Brownie scout knocking on your door. Once you open up that door, you feel a lot of social pressure to actually buy a few boxes of cookies. Now, if you could do it all over again, if you could do an instant replay…


DUBNER: You wouldn’t answer the door, would you?


LIST: You would stay and watch the Jets play against the Steelers. Although both of those teams are terrible, I’m sorry about that Stephen. You would rather sit on the couch, but once you’re at the door, then you feel obliged to help out the Brownie Scouts. That is very, very important. Now, that’s very important not only for the small givers, but that’s a very important influence as well for these very, very large givers, these people who write checks for $1 million or $10 million, social pressure or what society tells them they should be doing is an important driver of their behaviors as well.


DUBNER: What about the herd mentality, just the idea that if people hear that others are giving to a cause, or that the cause itself announces that there’s a big pile of seed money then that will spur others to give?


LIST: I think you’ve hit on something that’s very important, or you’ve pinpointed what economists would call herding or information cascades. And you’re exactly right, when others see a person of influence, or a person who they think has good knowledge of that charitable cause. If they see them giving, they are much more likely to give themselves. Likewise, if you see a friend giving to a cause, you’re much more likely to give to that cause as well.


[MUSIC: Eleggua Productions, “Sistema Mayoridad”]


DUBNER: Some years back, John List did some interesting research at East Carolina University. He was sending people door-to-door, raising money for a hurricane-relief fund. He wanted to know what methodology worked best – is it a good idea to entice donors with a lottery, things like that -- but he also wanted to know if it mattered what the person who knocked on your door looked like. Did an attractive person raise more money than an average-looking person? Now, how do you go about doing that – how do you measure it? First, the researchers hired a bunch of college students who would go door-to-door. Then they took a photo of each of these student solicitors – and sent their pictures to students at a different college, and they now rated every solicitor’s looks, on a scale of 1 to 10. Then the solicitors were sent out to knock on doors. What do you think happened?


LIST: What we find is that one obvious result is that the beautiful women ended up raising the most money of all the solicitors that we had.


DUBNER: I’m shocked.


LIST: Now, interestingly that result was entirely driven by men answering the door.


DUBNER: Now I am…


LIST: So, I don’t know…


DUBNER: So women didn’t give more to good-looking women, you’re saying?


LIST: No. So women don’t give more to good-looking women, women don’t give more to good-looking men. This entire physical attractiveness result is driven by men answering the door and they see this beautiful woman. They say oh tell me more about this relief fund, tell me how I can help, oh I’d love to help. They get out the wallet, they give more money. Now again, that’s more money going to the relief fund. I can guess why they gave. They probably did not give because they really cared that much about the relief fund. But at the end of the day the charitable organization didn’t care because they had more money coming in. Now, scientifically this turns out to be really interesting because it tells you that if altruism was the sole explanatory variable for why people give, beauty shouldn’t matter. But this is changing an incentive for the solicitees, and yes indeed the male solicitees end up responding, I want to give more money to beautiful women.


DUBNER: Give me a sense of how big this beauty effect is. So let’s say one solicitor is ranked a 9 out of 10 by unbiased or disinterested parties and one is ranked a six. How much more does the nine raise than the six?


LIST: Right, you’re looking at roughly a 100 percent increase when you look at going from a six to a nine.


DUBNER: Oh my goodness. And what about hair color?


LIST: So hair color ends up being important as well. And it turns out that blondes certainly have more fund raising more money. You just can’t beat a beautiful blonde who’s going door to door to raise money for you cause.


[MUSIC: Green Tea, “Something Like This” (from Places and Spaces)]


DUBNER: Coming up on Freakonomics Radio: John List says that one of the best things you can to do to raise money is offer a lottery prize…


LIST: So my guess is there are millions of people that would love to have dinner in New York City with Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt…


DUBNER: Millions? I seriously doubt that. But we can get it a try. And if that doesn’t work, I wonder if the Beauty Effect would work on the radio…


SAUNDERS: I personally would donate money to Freakonomics and I think you should too.




ANNOUNCER: From WNYC: This is FREAKONOMICS RADIO. Here’s your host, Stephen Dubner.


[MUSIC: Spencer Garn, “Living In Harmony”]


DUBNER: So if you’re trying to raise money for some kind of charity or project, what’s the best way to get people to give? The economist John List has been studying this very question for years. He’s learned a good bit. Donors love lotteries, for instance -- a chance to win a big prize for donating a little bit of money. Matching grants are also a great idea – but a 3-to-1 match is no better at raising funds than a 1-to-1 match, so instead of throwing that extra money out there, you could maybe use it to buy a bunch of blonde hair dye. Here’s something else that John List says is incredibly useful in raising money: put the power in the hands of the donor.


LIST: I think the power of control what I mean is to control the communications, so I control how often you contract me. It seems like every day when I get home I have five mailers that I just throw away, and it irritates me because I think that organization must not be very efficient because they’re wasting a lot of money continuously sending me this junk. And I also think the power of providing the good that I want to consume. So think about Freakonomics’ podcasts, one way you can think about raising more money is to say look we really want you to help our cause. We need you to give money to help us. And you could say, look we’re going to change our relationship, we want you the listener to help dictate what we talk about, at least a fraction of the things we talk about will be determined by our donors. You could think about linking the gift itself to a probability of winning a prize. So my guess is there are millions of people that would love to have dinner in New York City with Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt. So why not link that kind of prize, say something like every dollar you give will give you one chance to win this lottery prize, which is a night on the town with Dubner and Levitt.


DUBNER: You know, because, okay, I’m actually going to exploit you because you are the master of fundraising. And as it happens we actually are starting our first ever fund-raising campaign for Freakonomics Radio. So we’ve been producing this free podcast for almost four years, and we finally are beginning to ask our listeners to pitch in to subsidize the costs. And so in some ways, you know, we’re a victim of the success of the podcast in that one of the biggest expenses is bandwidth, literally digital distribution, so the more people download, the more it costs. And we have about 3 million downloads a month, which is great news, but it gets expensive, and we have producer salaries, and equipment, and music licensing and all that kind of stuff. So if we wanted to right here, on the spot, with you John List, the master of fundraising craft a little fundraising appeal that would really work, you know, we don’t want to be just one of those people who begs for money and puts on the whole Public Radio voice and says support us. We want to...and that may work, but I don’t know, but we want it to work. So can you, would you mind giving us a hand walking us through some specific that we can try to do to raise money?


LIST: Sure, absolutely. So a first general theme should be that you appeal to exactly what the donors want to consume. You have to tell the donors here’s what we provide and here’s what you will lose, importantly lose…


DUBNER: See I’m uncomfortable saying that. That feels like a give us money or we’ll kill your kitten.


LIST: Is it true? If you will really kill the kitten if you don’t receive money?


DUBNER: No, it’s not true.


LIST: Oh, if that statement isn't true then? You don’t want to say it.


DUBNER: Right, if people don’t give us any money…


LIST: We’re off the air.


DUBNER: Eh, you know, I guess in a matter of time we would be. But…I guess I’m not comfortable with that appeal. Because you know why? Can I tell you why John?


LIST: Absolutely.


DUBNER: It feels desperate and I, and the way I feel is we neither are desperate nor, maybe even more so, I want to appear desperate. Because I don’t like to be around people who are desperate, even if they are.


LIST: I’m with you. I’m with you...but also if you came in and told me that if you would just give $50 we can for another year put out these podcasts, you know what? I’d turn from a free-rider to a giver, because I value the podcast at more than $50. Now, I get that you don’t want to be desperate. So let’s just say a general theme is you want to focus your call on the services that you provide to your listeners. Not that they’re going to help somebody else become a better person. So that’s a general theme is what you can do for your givers. Now, secondly I think it’s important to link the podcast dollars that come in with a private good that these people like.


DUBNER: We have, so we actually have just drawn up some prizes. They’re not that shocking, but they’re kind of fun. So like for $60 bucks a year, someone gets a Freakonomics mug, we’re making a great mug that’s a Freakonomics Radio mug, it’s actually got content on it from the radio. Seventy-five bucks a year, Freakonomics Radio t-shirt. And for $360 bucks a year, so these are monthly sustaining memberships, a certain amount a month, $360 a years, or $30 bucks a month, they get the signed book. But what you’re saying is, as good as those may be, the lottery component is really good. So if we say that everybody that contributes anything at all, or even just pretends that they want to contribute could be entered into a lottery and we’d bring them out to New York and take them out to dinner, maybe have them spend the day here at WNYC at the radio studio and see how we make the sausage. You’re saying that’s a no brainer, we should definitely do that.


LIST: I think so. I think as long as you can do that under the laws of gambling, which of course you need to check out, I think that is a no brainer.


DUBNER: Now what about, you mention that maybe the most prominent driver of philanthropic giving is what’s called warm glow altruism, that people feel…they get something good that makes them feel, that makes them glow for giving the money. Is there any way that we could pitch Freakonomics Radio you think in that direction? I can’t think of any. I find us, you know, not very glowy.


LIST: Yeah, so when I think about warm glow, I think about it as if you give money to that cause you can actually sit around the Thanksgiving table and brag to you mom about how good of a person you are because you just gave money to that specific cause.


DUBNER: Yeah, I don’t see that working for us, do you?


LIST: I don’t. For Freakonomics Radio, If I sat around the Thanksgiving table and said hey mom and dad -- remember my dad’s a truck driver, my mom’s a secretary -- and I say, I just, you know, you know what I’m going to give you for Christmas, is $100 charitable contribution to the Freakonomics podcast. Look, I might be out in the snow bank eating my Turkey. I have to think about it further, but I don’t see, I don’t see warm glow, I see the Freakonomics podcast as more of a private good, actually. Even though, I get that it’s a public good, and I get that one you provide it people can free ride, but the consumption of it ends up being one that, look, I want to consume it because it’s going to help me. And if I don’t have these podcasts for some reason I might not be as good of a person.


[MUSIC: The Diplomats of Solid Sound, “Bullfrog Bugaloo” (from Instrumental Action Soul)]


DUBNER: So should that be our message? Which is that if you don’t help support us you will become an idiot?


LIST: Yeah, this is a nuclear button that you said you didn’t want to push.


DUBNER: No, no, the nuclear button that I didn’t want was if you don’t support us we won’t make it. Because I’m not will to do that.


LIST: But what are you going to do then, you’re going to make lower quality?


DUBNER: Exactly, it’s just like, if we don’t have the…We’re just going to make these stuff that’s going to make your ears bleed after a while and you won’t get out of it what you want out of it.


LIST: Yeah, so I’ll call that the quasi-nuclear button. We’re going to give you something, but it’s going to be crap. But I do like the angle of, you know, appealing to what they’re getting individually out of this. I think that has to be it.

DUBNER: Is there any kind of positive message that you could imagine, like, you know, keep your brain cells alive, you know.


LIST: Or keep your neurons firing.


DUBNER: There you go, I like that.


LIST: Here’s what would be really cool, Stephen, if we put one guy in an fMRI listening to some ordinary radio show and then put another guy in the fMRI listening to one of, or a series of your podcasts, and we found that parts of the brain that importantly lead to good things in society, deeper thinker, more analytical, and you can say look we can keep providing this, look at this guy, here’s a brain on Freakonomics, here’s a brain on crap.


DUBNER: That is awesome John. So let me ask you this, when you sent solicitors door-to-door to raise money you found that good looking people do better, they raise more money. Now this is radio, podcast/radio, and I think I have a great face for radio, so no one’s seeing what we look like. But since some people do know what we look like versus other people should we just get some really good-looking well-known people, one or two, to ask for us.


LIST: I would say both. I think some people want to see you and Steve, and I think other people want to see others who they want to emulate tell them that this is a good product and that they should consume it too.


[MUSIC: Ruby Velle and The Soulphonics, “Longview” (from It’s About Time)]


DUBNER: Okay, podcast listeners. That was John List, the mad scientist of fund-raising. We’d be fools to not follow his advice. So, as John suggested, I asked Steve Levitt to pitch in on our fund-raising appeal. Here’s what Levitt said:


LEVITT: Knowing you, I don’t think your objective is really to raise the most money. Your objective is to make the listeners as happy as possible by giving them the option to be happier by giving us some money.


DUBNER: Oh. That’s such a nice way of putting it. We are trying to please our listeners by giving them the option of participating.


DUBNER: Alright, so if that doesn’t appeal to you, let me remind you that we are offering Freakonomics Radio swag if you come to and make a donation. There’s a Freakonomics Radio t-shirt, a Freakonomics Radio mug – all brand-new. I don’t mean new as in not used by other people – which they are not – but brand new designs, just for this Freakonomics Radio fund-raiser. You can also get a signed copy of our book, if that would make you happy… Now, John List also told us that it’s a good idea to mention the other people 4 are already donating. So let me say this – we’ve only just turned on the fund-raising button on and already we’ve got donations pouring in from Roberto in Brazil… from Chris from New Zealand and Christian from Malta… Mark from New Jersey and Daniel from Washington state. But I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: I don’t know any of those people and, moreover, I don’t know if they’re good-looking. Remember what John List said about the Beauty Effect?


LIST: What we find is that one obvious result is that the beautiful women ended up raising the most money of all the solicitors that we had.


DUBNER: All right, then, in the name of science:


Savannah SAUNDERS: I’m Savannah Saunders. I’m a student at Swarthmore College. I’m also a model and I think you should donate to Freakonomics today.  


DUBNER: She’s with the Wilhelmina Agency, in Miami.


SAUNDERS: I advocate for Freakonomics to my family, friends…it’s my very favorite.


DUBNER: Are we taking off in the Wilhelmina modeling community?


SAUNDERS: I haven’t yet seen it taking off there, but I’m sure it will. I will be spreading the word at castings.


DUBNER: Alright, Savannah, and as you spread this word...what will you actually tell people?


SAUNDERS: Well, Freakonomics Radio is great because it opens people’s minds to the hidden side of everything which is just really special and no other economists do it like Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt. I personally would donate money to Freakonomics and I think you should too.


DUBNER: Now, we also asked John List if good-looking men raised more money.


LIST: Yeah, we didn’t see a lot of that in our data, that beauty effect was really not driven by better looking men. That’s not anywhere in our data.


DUBNER: John List is probably right but you know what? This is important to us. So, just to be sure, I want to cover all our bases:


DUBNER: Okay, hey Adrian.


Adrian GRENIER: Hey, what’s up?


DUBNER: How’s it going?


GRENIER: Fantastic. And yourself?


DUBNER: Great. What are you working on?


GRENIER: Oh, quite a number of things.


DUBNER: So, Adrian, you are an actor and director and musician, you’ve also made some really good documentary films, you’re an environmental activist which a lot of people may not know about you, but at this stage, you may still be best best known for playing Vincent Chase on Entourage, do you think that’s the case?


GRENIER: I’d say that would be accurate, yes.


DUBNER: Okay, and would you also say it’s accurate that you are, well, I guess this is a matter of opinion, but it strikes me that you are the best looking human male I’ve ever met or maybe that has ever existed.


GRENIER: Wow, you always were such a big flirt, weren’t you, Stephen?


DUBNER: But, I mean, you are a good looking fella, we can agree on that?


GRENIER: Well, thank you. 


DUBNER: Alright, here’s what I am getting to: so, even though this is radio and people can't see you, they do know what you, Adrian Grenier, look like, so I am wondering if you would just turn on your good looking-ness over the radio and help us out. 


GRENIER: Alright, 1, 2, 3... How was that?


DUBNER: That was good, I’m hearing it, I’m feeling it. Um….so, what are  you willing to say for us, you know? Are you willing to say that, hey, I’m Adrian Grenier and I’m a certified attractive person, I mean, it’s up to you.


GRENIER: Well, you know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I really do believe that, but if it will help you out, you can go to my Instagram @AdrianGrenier and if you like what you see, well then, support Freakonomics Radio.


[MUSIC: The Jaguars - Leave Me Alone (from The Jaguars)]


DUBNER: All right, we’ve almost emptied our bag of tricks. But as John List told us, people love a lottery. So let’s do it. If you go to and click on the donate button, you’ll automatically be entered into a lottery to come to New York, have some lunch with me and the Freakonomics Radio team, and even spend the day with us if you want, watching us make the podcast – which, I have to tell you, is very exciting to watch. We’ll fly you to New York from anywhere in the U.S., put you up in a hotel, and give you more Freakonomics swag than you can possibly carry home. Which means you may even have to buy an extra bag and pay a bag check fee, and you know what, we’ll pay that, too. You don’t even have to make a donation to enter the lottery but of course we hope you will. So thanks to all of you for listening as always – and a special thanks to anyone who goes to to make a donation –  and I look forward to meeting one of you very soon.

Leave A Comment

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  1. Matt says:

    Every time you don’t donate to Freakonomics, God kills a kitten.

    Please, won’t you think of the kittens?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 5
  2. BL1Y says:

    You can’t bring on Vinny Chase in a story about donations, and not also have Matt Damon and Bono do some browbeating.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
  3. Roy says:

    Would love a podcast or article about the results of your fundraiser.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1
  4. Lena says:

    Where are the mugs?

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  5. Brit says:

    > “Here’s our favorite way that List says you can raise more money: get an attractive person, preferably a woman, to do the asking for you. ”

    During the podcast, it seemed pretty clear that attractive men don’t get a donation advantage. I don’t know why you don’t just say “get an attractive woman to do the asking for you”. Are the Freakonomics authors uncomfortable with admitting that attractive women have clear advantages over both men in general and attractive men?

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    • RandomJokester says:

      All I know is that the google search ranking for “Savannah Saunders Wilhelmina” from referrer “” just shot up a few orders of magnitude.

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    • Johan Sterk says:

      I love how economists discuss altruism without having a clue about scientific psychology. :-)

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  6. Nicholas says:

    I suggest you follow the freemium model, recently used successfully by Dan Savage and Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe: charge a small amount for a private password-protected RSS feed containing ad-free episodes, and maybe something extra. Savage provides a longer podcast; SGU offers short-format extra episodes.

    SGU also offered a carrot: if enough listeners started paying, they would completely eliminate ads. You two Steves might not share the ideologically driven irrational rage against ads felt by people like me, but that was a motivator for me personally. SGU said if 3% of listeners subscribed, they’d totally drop ads. How many would it take for you?

    If every podcast wants $4 or $8 a month, however, my radio habit is going to get too expensive. Maybe you podcast folks should get together and offer bundles.

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  7. Mike says:

    First off, I love the podcast and understand that there are costs associated with producing it that need to be covered.

    The key thing that deters me from donating to podcasts is that I don’t have any idea how much it actually costs to produce and host them or how many people are downloading them and therefore what is a reasonable donation to cover your costs.

    While some might argue that I should pay whatever the podcast is worth to me, I don’t like the idea of overpaying.

    I would be willing to donate more if I knew that each podcast cost $10,000 to produce and host and was listened to by 100,000 people than if it cost $500 to produce and host and was listened to by a million people.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3
  8. madjid says:

    Hey, Thank you so much for your podcasts. Can you please allow donations through Paypal ( or any other payment method that doesn’t involve credit cards). I live in Canada and can’t send you a check in USD. Thanks again !

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0
  9. JK74 says:

    Hmm… you offer to bring anyone from anywhere in the US to NYC – but three of the 5 people who you mention as having already donated are from outside the US. Sure, it will be a lot more expensive to transport someone from New Zealand or Brazil to NY than it is to bring them from Atlanta or Boston, but think of the increase in goodwill. Plus, if a significant chunk of your fanbase is from outside the US, what a huge increase in incentive for them to donate. I don’t need another t-shirt or mug, but a trip to NYC – that would be really big.

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  10. Scott Hencye says:

    What do you guys think about selling T-Shirts and other freakenomics gear separate from a fundraising drive. I would gladly wear a freakenomics T-Shirt to show off that I listen to such a great pod cast, it could do wonders for advertising as well.

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  11. lloydfour says:

    Put a picture of Savannah on the main page asking for money.

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  12. lloydfour says:

    Dan Pallotta has some interesting views on charity fundraising

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  13. Bill Leslie says:

    re men giving more when a beautiful woman is doing the asking; all I could think about was the poor Krakatoans (ob: Seinfeld):

    ELAINE: I remember you donated to some volcano thing on our first date.
    JERRY: Volcano? Really?
    ELAINE: Oh, wait a minute. Don’t tell me that that was …
    JERRY: Something to drink?
    ELAINE: What did you think, that would impress me?
    JERRY: You got it ALL wrong. I was thinking only of the poor Krakatoans
    ELAINE: Like you give this donation for 50 bucks and I’d start tearing my clothes off?
    JERRY: Those brave Krakatoans East of Java. who sacrifice so much for so long.

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  14. Philip Meagher says:

    En route to my office this morning I walked passed a few college students who were asking for donations on different corners; the pretty blonde collecting was the only one that had men talking to her. Empirical proof.

    I think that you have WASTED an opportunity. With this lottery I think that there should be three options.

    1. A trip to New York City to hang out with Stephen Dubner and the whole Freakonomics Radio crew.
    2. A trip to New York City to hang out with Savannah Saunders.
    3. A trip to New York City to hang out with Vincent Chase.

    People donate and nominate which of the three options they would prefer.

    You should never waste an opportunity to test.

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  15. Carol Mueller says:

    Where can we buy a mug??

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  16. Cathryne says:

    Please add Flattr & BitCoin as permanent donation options. I’d rather use those a credit card.
    Thanks and greetings!

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  17. Frank Forkl says:

    Are you familiar with It is a new fundraising system started by several educational Youtube channels. It works somewhat like the public radio format; a listener/viewer either subscribes or gives a one time donation, and when you’ve accrued enough donation “credits” then you can cash in those credits for some themed prize. Some of them are physical objects, others are intangibles like mentions on the show. Its a fascinating system and while it just launched, so far its working tremendously well for the channels that have signed up.

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  18. Bob says:

    Have the great sounding women say “I gave to Freakonomics radio and hope you do to”.
    None of the women, in the show, say the they gave?

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  19. Tarwin says:

    Have you looked at lowering bandwidth costs? A quick back of the envelope calculation tells me it should be below $11k, which is what you would pay for Amazon S3 storage and transfer.

    Which turns out to approx. 0.3c per listener. (or podcast listened to, which is more along the lines of what I think you were talking about). Probably each listener then costs about 3c (35c a year), hence about 1,000,000 listeners. This actually ties in nicely with the off-hand comment that there is 1mill people who would like to have dinner with you.

    To support just bandwidth, and a growing bandwidth, you could easily then get $1 from each user per year and still be making money (bandwidth only of course).

    Let’s assume that only 2% of your users will pay though (normal online conversion rate for e-commerce). Then you’d need them to pay $15 each to cover just bandwidth. That’s the minimum at least for that.

    Anyway, interesting plan. Guess I’ll have to go and give my $15 now and be one of the 2% …

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  20. Sam says:

    Sorry guys, but I won’t be donating, even tho I am a regular listener.

    Several reasons for that:

    -I don’t earn a lot of money, what I give of it goes to valuable charities. I enjoy your show, but if you stop making it tomorrow, it’s not a big deal to me or the rest of humanity really.
    If the guys at the cancer research I donate to stop doing what they are doing, that is a big deal.

    – You wrote very successful books (which I bought) and you are economists, I figure, you guys are loaded for sure.

    – You

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  21. Michael Connolly says:

    The concept of “warm-glow” giving has never made sense to me. It seems to me that someone who derives satisfaction from helping others is an altruist. “Pure” altruism is seeking utility from the charitable act itself (e.g., a boost to self-esteem or perceiving oneself to be a more socially responsible person), while “impure” altruism is seeking utility from the secondary effects of giving (e.g., receiving gratitude from the recipient or praise and recognition from third parties).
    If instead “pure” altruism means that the giver seeks nothing in return, not even a psychological pay-off, is pure altruism even possible? How could I both want to help others but not expect to receive any utility from doing so?

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  22. Eric Kennedy says:

    Great show. However, you forgot a primary reason why people donate to charity: To impress their attractive tax preparers. I’m not kidding. I’m very attractive and worked as a tax preparer for two years. I’ve seen this first hand. I now find myself considering the impression I will make on my attractive tax preparer.

    The most effective way to boost nation-wide charitable giving, would be to staff H&R Block with models and encourage them to make comments about the size of people’s annual donation amounts.

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  23. Phil says:

    Lunch with Dubner? Prize should clearly have been dinner with Savannah. You guys didn’t learn much from your own lesson.

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  24. Matt in AZ says:

    “I love to be proven wrong.”
    I never saw a mea culpa about the abortion / crime claim after that was debunked (in the Economist when I saw it). Maybe I missed it. Would be good to give Mother Jones / Kevin Drum props for the lead explanation.

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  25. nerdpocalypse says:

    Good podcast as usual; very interesting and informative.
    But you entirely glossed over the larger and more important economic question of whether donation is ever a good idea.
    Your far-left bias is showing—Under what possible economic model is just giving someone money NOT a disincentive to productivity ?

    Wouldn’t it be a better model to say what you can do to EARN more money ?
    1) The Dan Savage paradigm in comments below is a very good example.
    2) Mugs for a more reasonable 15 dollars; t-shirts, etc.
    (note that the NPR economics podcast did a kickstarter to make a t-shirt and got a legit half a million in profit). Congratulations, you are now far far to the left of NPR. That is truly an accomplishment.
    3) How much do you want to co-publish a book ? I’m not entirely serious on giving you a hard time on this and am actually a liberal Democrat. But, I am serious about merging my background in numeric analysis with economics on a book. Starting with the nature of numbers (real versus ideal) then relating that to systems engineering with specific application in clinical pharmacology (and many, many, other fields).

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  26. Johan Sterk says:

    Economists use the concept “self interest” without defining what “The Self” is. Could it be that it includes your loved ones, for example?

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  27. Alessandro Sena says:

    A simple solution to decrease the cost of bandwidth is providing a P2P(torrent) download alternative 😀

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  28. Piper says:

    Jaizuss Dubner, such a bubbie (yeah, I heard about your radical Jewish parents). .
    you’re not listening!!!
    to the expert!!

    Raffle off dinner with the TWO of you in New York (you might consider a sealed biding war for that one). .

    LISTEN to the expert you had on, for Pete’s sake.

    Now I’m going to give you sme dinero. I only listen and learn so I wouldn’t be much of a conversationalist if I won. . .
    Dubner, are you there??????

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  29. RC says:

    Came here to donate, and did not see a Paypal link. So I didn’t donate.

    The Freakonomics team, of all people, should know about the fact that additional barriers to purchase products online, either through additional clickthrough pages or a lack of a simple way to make payments without reentering info for yet another website may reduce purchases.

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  30. Andrew Cockerham says:

    A) I think you should appeal to your audience. I believe your audience is not the average American. Your audience are education thinkers who through listening to Freakonomics have a decent understanding of economic principles and incentives. So therefore I think you should simply appeal to them saying if you like Freakonomics and want the quality to remain high, then simply donate equal to the value that Freakonimics is to you!

    B) I COMPLETELY agree that you should allow the listeners/donors to participate by choosing topics that are discussing on Freakonomics. Perhaps even interview various donors who have interesting stories/lives related to some interesting Freakonomics topic.

    Sometimes in the past I have found episodes that left me somewhat disappointed in that I don’t feel like the topic was covered in enough depth. I was left wanting more. I hope (and would like some sort of confidence) that if I donate, topics will be discussed more thoroughly.

    C) Can I give $1 per month?

    D) Levitt says that its really hard to give something away for free and then later start asking people to pay for it. While most of the time that is true, that is exactly the model that is becoming so popular with smart phone apps. The Freemium model, where the app is free but you pay for extra features. Could Freakonomics use this model? The podcast remains free, but donors get extra privileges, like submitting questions that actually get turned into podcasts, like certain extra exclusive “members only” podcasts, like some sort of live office hours (Google+ hangout?) with Dubner and Levitt for members only, etc etc.

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  31. Ultrasloth says:

    WTF Dubner?!?
    (I don’t know if you’re in any way responsible for this but you’ll just have to take the kick to the balls:

    CC/check? What is this? The 1930s in Spain?

    Goddamnit I love your show but Paypal/Bitcoin are the only methods to get money to you easily for me. Let me help you.

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  32. Adam Johnston says:

    Love the podcast, here’s my question. I live in Perú and there is a lot of questions just now about why the government occupies offices in the most expensive business districts. They should attract good employees, be accessible to the public and be near good transport corridors, but if they move then they would take some congestion with them and gentrify another area. In some countries the government have their own cities. In others they are in the business capital. What is best?

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  33. Matt says:

    Would donate if there were a 1-time only option, don’t want to sign up for another monthly charge in my life.

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  34. Dave says:

    This is one of my favourite podcasts so I am keen to support you, but I am finding it hard to agree with any of the options you’ve initially provided.

    Last year I happily contributed US $65 to the “99% Invisible Season 3 Kickstarter” because:

    1. I enjoyed the show
    2. I got a t-shirt (for US $10 less than the price you’re charging, including overseas delivery)
    3. Roman Mars committed to producing MORE content in exchange for the pledges, and, when the Kickstarter really took off, to hiring extra staff and to putting the money towards improved production values.

    At the moment the options you’re providing ask for more money than a small independent producer required, without promising any improvements to the thing I want to support – the podcast.

    Additionally, I’m prepared to pay a one-off fee to contribute, but the one-off contribution option does not appear to be linked to any of the rewards. Is there a reason why the rewards are linked to monthly debits?

    I look forward to contributing if you can improve the current freaky options.

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  35. Jan says:

    It’s been said before but I’d vote for it, too: Please add as payment option. I’m too lazy to insert my data in a form each time nor do I want to keep track of 10 1$/month bookings on my bank account. So flattr is a fine way to pay for great podcasts(and blogs)

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  36. Brian says:

    You ignored the best advice from your podcast, and that was from Steven Levitt. You didn’t offer a way to give while listening to the podcast. Which is when I would have been giving. Its simple and I have contributed to other podcasts using this method and will do so when you offer it as well. It is donation by text. It has worked for the The Red Cross, This American Life an On the Media, all of which I have given ten bucks by texting. It was immediate, as Mr Levitt recommended, and the bar is almost iTunes low.

    When y’all get that going, get back to me and I will be happy to send you my $10.

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  37. David says:

    Donate money to a program that receives money from advertisers. Hmm. I think I already pay you by listening to the ads from Stitcher Smart radio, LegalZoom and Foursquare.

    But I can see why you need the donations — the thinking about money podcast contained some really dumb advice. Dubner you were right on when you stuck it to Leavitt. Why did you back down? Teaching young kids to borrow more money!? Haven’t you looked at unemployment? Are Student loan default rates? Debt levels?

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  38. Dennis L says:

    I guess this is a suggestion, as well as another experiment… how about if you setup a second itunes feed with the same audio stream of the show, but which is subscription based; meaning if you donate you get a secret link or password for access. The differentiation would be that the unpaid stream includes begging for donations, advertisements, maybe even just a random annoying noise somewhere in the middle… while the paid link would provide the show with a pleasant “thank you” message at the beginning and maybe a little “you’re so special, thank you” song at the end; little affirmations to reward those who are “good people”. The cost for the number of downloads would be the same (because people would download one or the other), and you could introduce new “irritations” into the free stream over time to see what motivates people to send you a check. You could even experiment with giving “premium” people the right to participate in further experiments; or even solicit for “renewals” to see what would allow you to keep people on the premium stream…

    Just my $.02

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  39. Amy says:

    How about adding a small gift for those of us who cannot afford monthly donations.
    How about sticker of the Freakonomics orange/apple logo for a 5 or 10 dollar one time donation.
    Whatever would recoup the cost of the sticker production.

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  40. AF says:

    I heard you mention that the biggest expense with the podcast is bandwidth. Why not allow non-monetary donations in the form of bandwidth by adopting an alternative distribution model?

    You could use bittorrent to distribute the podcast files, which would reduce your bandwidth usage by spreading it among your listeners. If anyone would be interested in donating bandwidth, they would just keep the torrent seeding.

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    • Caue Rego says:

      That sounds like an awesome and obvious idea! :)

      But maybe, and just maybe, torrents will not really reduce the bandwidth significantly… It would sure worth the shot. Too bad big companies take so long to adopt new technologies. :(

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  41. Bill McGonigle says:

    Link the fundraiser to these blog accounts and then display a ‘badge’ here next to the blog poster’s name relevant to the amount of donation (e.g. $50+ for a yellow badge, $100+ for a red badge, $200+ for a blue badge), with an expiration of one year.

    People will pay for social status symbols, and the reminder value of the donation drive lasts all year (which may encourage ongoing donations through social signalling). If you get just ten participants you should be able to cover the cost of implementation.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
    • Bill McGonigle says:

      …. and perhaps even implement strong authentication (e.g. SQRL) and let the donors skip the moderation queue. People will pay for having a louder voice – dealing very occasionally with an outlier case of a donor having a post that needs moderation attention may well be worth the revenue.

      Somebody said you should ask what benefit the donation has to the donor. :)

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3
      • TC says:

        How about donors’ comments skip moderation OR never get removed no matter how many thumbs down they get?

        I certainly don’t think anyone should donate until you cut on costs, just as any business would do. I’m sure a lot of your staff could be replaced with interns, free-lance or part-timers. Lose the music & save the license fees or if you must have it I’m sure there’s CC music out there.

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  42. corky says:

    I do not like to donate when some of my money will be used to provide a trip for another donor or be used to pay for mugs or tee shirts. Why not just allow people to donate and then be able to buy a mug or tee shirt at a reduced rate? Or just sell the mugs or shirts. I support public radio, but really dislike the idea that some of the money goes to buy trinkets, I give the money to support the SHOWS.
    I do not understand why people will donate $50 to get a mug.
    Also, I do not like the monthly payment option. It makes it harder to determine how much you have donated over the year. With a lump sum donation (I just spread them out so that this month I donate to this groups, next month to another) I see it as a ONE TIME expense on my credit card statement.

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  43. Aaron R says:

    Did you see the homage to this episode today in the the Pearls Before Swine comic strip?

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  44. Tom Weinandy says:

    Another excellent podcast from Dubner and Levitt!

    This one was especially interesting to me, since I did an economic analysis to measure what factors predict giving during Sunday masses at a small, Catholic university. Link:

    A summary the study are below:

    Fast Facts for People Who Don’t Like Reports

    The following is a summarized list of results based on an analysis of the data and written is in simple language. For those that do not enjoy jargon, dry statistical analysis or boring reports, this page (and possibly the literature review) will be the only parts worth reading. Enjoy!

    1. 552 chapel collections from 2008-2012 Sunday masses were analyzed to understand what factors influence giving.

    2. Each mass on average had 80 people in attendance and collected an average of $173.62, resulting in an average per person donation of $2.13.

    3. After some fancy number crunching, an equation was made that can predict 58% of the factors associated with the average per person donation; however, almost one third of the actual outcomes are more or less than $0.78 away from the estimated amount.

    4. Only a few individual factors predicted per person giving. The most notable was an increase during times when there are more community members than students, e.g. Winter Break, Summer Semester, morning mass, when returning from a break; yet surprisingly NOT during minor university breaks.

    5. Mass attendees do not give more or less depending on the presider, unless the presider has said less than ten masses during 2008-2012. This is a relief.

    6. The per person giving does not change for Easter or Christmas, but does go down (by about $0.66 per person) for Ash Wednesday.

    7. There is also no change in per person giving around the type of program that is benefiting from the collection, unless the program is responding to a widely-known disaster when attendees give an extra $0.64 per person.

    8. Other events that do not show to have a measurable impact include Finals Week, major campus events, minor university breaks and even Super Bowl weekend.

    9. The equation can also be used to predict future collections with an estimated 58% accuracy. In fact, when the estimated amounts were compared with the actual amounts for January 2013, the equation predicted with an 80% accuracy.

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  45. Dirk says:

    My only thought about all this talk about fundraising for the was “How much did the NY Times pay for this blog when they bought it a few years back?”

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  46. Kris Knives says:

    Thanks for doing this show. I’m getting ready to do a fund raiser for my web comic and this is very useful information! I can already think of a number of ways to improve my plans based on this episode.

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  47. Nancy Woelfle says:

    your donations don’t allow for paypal

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  48. Smite says:

    If you had a paypal option I would donate

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  49. Gordon Johnson says:

    I download about 12 public radio podcasts/week. I already contribute to both public radio stations in my area, but I would be willing to contribute something extra directly to the producers for the convenience of a podcast that I like.

    My concern is doing it on line. A mailing list of altruistic donors is worth much more than the original contribution as it can be sold to many different “partners”. And then the emails never stop.

    In response to a plea for donations to help a favorite WNYC podcast a year ago, I sent a check for $25 with a note of explanation. Any guesses what happened?

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  50. Matthew K says:

    What was that background song at about 14 minutes in on how to raise money without killing a kitten? Sounded like a cool tune.

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  51. Jessica Nurack says:

    This is my first Freakonomics podcast (I know, I know…), but as a fundraiser for a nonprofit, this definitely pulled me in and I am keen for more.

    However, I just wanted to mention that John List SOUNDS a whole lot like Mark Ruffalo…at least to my ears. So, I feel that an interesting fundraising experiment would be to have a poll on your site that allows visitors to vote (Yes!, Eh, or Not Even Close) IF s/he were to make a small donation. After you make the donation and vote, then you also get to see what everyone else voted as well. It uses the attractiveness principle (or at least the perceived star power of Mark Ruffalo) along with a reward (seeing how others voted) and the possibility of “winning,” i.e., choosing an answer that other donors/listeners also picked most often.

    I will embarrassingly admit that I always get sucked in to online polls and satisfaction of picking the most popular answer is absurdly high…but I think there’s something there. And given how many people also do polls who are not just me, I’d say I’m not the only one who enjoys the rush.

    Anyway. Just a thought.

    Love the show btw. I will keep coming back.

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  52. Shiv says:

    Hi, I often listen and enjoy the podcast, though admittedly in binge cycles. When it was mentioned that bandwidth was one of the biggest expenses, I wondered if using peer to peer distribution could be considered for the podcasts.

    While there is the general disdain of using a distribution method that may facilitate illegal activity. Many use it for perfectly legitimate business as well, such as game launchers for updates and linux distro distribution.

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  53. Antoinette says:

    Question that I’d love to see addressed. I love public radio, and as soon as I was financially able to donate (comfortable but not extravagant salary, no debt except student loans, of which I’m paying well above the minimum), I mostly donated to my favorite station. Once podcasts became a thing, I kicked a little of that money towards the companies most associated with my favorite podcasts. So, instead of giving all my money to WNYC, for instance, I give some to WNYC, and spread the rest between NPR, PRI, etc. My question is how to handle the numerous “one off” podcasts not associated with any station. I love listening and they add value to my life, but I have limited dollars to spend on charity and other causes dear to my heart?. Also, does it make more sense to give all the money to one company even though it doesn’t support everything I listen to or to break the money up, but give only small amounts to each? What is theb best economic decision! Thank you.

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  54. brian says:

    Of course,..if i were to ‘donate” to a “free” podcast,….it would cease to be FREE!! :) I do however like how Dan Savage runs his Savagelove podcast. Anyone can listen to the free podcast which runs with commercials and is an abridged version. Become a paid subscriber and you get commercial free and twice the show. I do pay for that one.

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  55. Jim G says:

    I have to believe the charity actually needs the money in order to donate. It’s easy to buy Girl Scout cookies, donate to a theater company or a museum foundation. It is much harder to donate to a podcast that is hosted by guys that have sold more than 5 million books. Isn’t the podcast simply a vehicle to sell more books?

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  56. boris says:

    Why don’t you upload your programs on youtube either with your actual faces or just a logo for the video component? if bandwidth is a problem – this should help. Also in the youtube description you can place a link to downloading your podcast as an mp3 file. this won’t reduce your bandwidth to Zero but maybe 50% ? Also there are tools that can download youtube videos and store on one’s local PC -if you mention them, your bandwidth would shrink farther.

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  57. Crissy Shipp says:

    I always have a little chuckle when Public Radio people say, without irony, “give us money to keep it free.” Um…

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  58. Brian says:

    Freakonomics can do something simple to allow some people to easily give money while listening to this podcast. Just add a “flattr” link in the feed (see New apps are allowing people to then flattr podcasts while listening to them (e.g. there is a new BeyondFlattr app that works with the popular BeyondPod Android podcast listener). It seems like it’s the start of a new payment ecosystem so it might not pay off much now, but it’s easy and could big in the future.

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    • Caue Rego says:

      I also find flattr a great idea, but it isn’t the only one and I don’t see yet any of them spreading enough. Hopefully bitcoins (or another yet to be announced cryptocurrency) will help changing that and allowing such micro-payments systems. Selecting a monthly budget and “flattering” artists you choose is simply awesome! :)

      But maybe we need a decentralized way of doing that as well…

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  59. Jesse Gleaton says:

    I want a Freakonomics T shirt (good way to raise money for the Podcast). Tell me how to get it.

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  60. Liz Kelly says:

    The show was interesting but the “killing the kitten” tagline was a HUGE turnoff. Don’t use cruety to invent a “catchy” title.

    Thank you, Liz Kelly

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  61. Rogi says:

    donation button with PayPal? wonder what would data show: impulse donation of one-click-done-in-fraction-of-a-second-instant-Dramamine-release vs. fill out cc information and getting discouraged while fetching the cc card out of wallet having first to fetch the wallet somewhere on the other side of the room??? :)

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  62. Braden says:

    I’m just wondering if the more you make the focus about helping someone else, the more of a “warm glow” effect you create, and vice versa, if you follow John advice and appeal to the donor, that you likewise reduce the “warm glow” effect. I know this isn’t the simplest answer to the question, Occam’s Razor and all.

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  63. Tisha Brown says:

    As a Pastor, I wonder how List’s research plays out when religious giving is included in his studies. Are people’s motivations for giving the same whether they’re religious or not?

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