Consumer demand for charitable purchases: Evidence from a field experiment on Girl Scout Cookie sales

Mark F. Owens, Adam D. Rennhoff, Charles L. Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


We conduct a field experiment on Girl Scout Cookie sales at retail locations to explore the decisions to make charity-linked (impure public good) purchases and charitable donations (pure public good). We collect detailed sales data in Rutherford County, Tennessee over a seven-year time period and conduct a field experiment that randomly assigns specific cookie booths to receive a charitable bonus contribution for purchases of the impure or pure public good. The bonuses take several forms, which potentially affect warm-glow utility from a purchase, while holding the purchase price and utility from consumption constant. Matching donations are not only effective for increasing donations to charity (pure public good) but also generate spillovers for increasing cookie sales for consumption (impure public good). Charitable bonuses on individual varieties of cookies increase sales of those varieties. In our data, consumers are more sensitive to changes in the relative cost of pure donations to charity than they are to changes in the relative cost of charity associated with a cookie purchase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-63
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - Aug 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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