How to Raise Money Without Killing a Kitten (Ep. 141)
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.
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.
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.