Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study


Charity Fraud: An Experimental Study of the Moral
Hazard Problem in the Charity Market


Donors entrust their resources to charitable organizations, which use these to carry out activities that contribute to society. Thus, the donation market carries the potential for moral hazard on the part of charitable organizations. However, empirical insights into the negative consequences of this problem are scarce. This study creates a unique game by incorporating elements of principal-agent relationships into the dictator game, in order to quantitatively examine the consequences of moral hazard in the donation market through laboratory experiments. The results reveal that moral-hazard environments hinder the average donation amount from donors and, furthermore, decrease recipients’ average payoffs. To address this negative outcome, non-binding promises are introduced to inform donors beforehand of the actions to be taken by charitable organizations. Although these promises succeed in offsetting the decrease in donation amounts, they do not sufficiently improve recipient welfare.



Report No.: HIAS-E-139
Author(s): Hiroki Kato(a), Youngrok Kim(b)
Affiliation: (a) Hitotsubashi University
(b) University of Hyogo
Issued Date: April 2, 2024
Keywords: Charity market; Dictator game; Fraud; Hidden action; Promise
JEL: C71, C92, D64, D82