Web Disclosure and the Market for Charitable Contributions

Gregory D. Saxton, D. Neely and Chao Guo

Nonprofit organizations face intense competition in the market for charitable contributions. Increasingly, donation decisions are made online, and organizations have responded by implementing substantive Internet disclosure and reporting regimes. We posit here that the voluntary disclosure of financial and performance information inherent in these regimes provides additional relevant information to a broad array of market participants, and thus has a positive impact on the receipt of charitable contributions. We test our hypotheses on a random sample of 400 US nonprofit organizations by building on the well established economic model of giving (Weisbrod and Dominguez, 1986), in which donations serve as the proxy for demand. Our central research question is thus: Are donors willing to “pay” for Web disclosure? Results indicate a positive relationship between the level of charitable contributions and the amount of disclosure provided by an organization on its website; however, performance and annual report disclosure are more important than financial disclosure, and performance disclosure has the biggest impact in organizations that are less reliant on donations.

Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming (Available on SSRN)

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