Using quality signaling to enhance survey response rates

Vincent Kerry Smith, Kelli L. Larson, Abigail York

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A growing body of research has found that linking products to charitable causes enhances sellers’ reputations. This paper tests with a field experiment whether the use of the option of giving to charity to signal genuine intentions in mail surveys can enhance the effectiveness of small financial incentives. We find that they do significantly increase individuals’ responsiveness to the differences in the amount of the incentives. Cash incentives lead to an approximated constant response rate. Adding the option to donate the incentive to a specific charity significantly increases the effect of the financial incentive on the likelihood of responding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-954
Number of pages4
JournalApplied Economics Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 24 2020


  • Response rate
  • charitable donations
  • quality signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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