The Effects of Similarity on Charitable Giving in Donor–Donor Dyads: A Systematic Literature Review

  • Yuan TianEmail author
  • Sara Konrath
Research Papers


Giving circles and alumni campaigns are popular forms of nonprofit fund-raising practice that may lead to positive peer effects that promote charitable giving among similar individuals. However, do individuals always give more in the presence of similar others? Most research finds a positive social influence among similar individuals in donor–solicitor and donor–recipient dyads. However, in donor–donor dyads, the effects of social influence on charitable giving are mixed. Individuals’ giving can be positively or negatively affected by other donors’ giving. This systematic literature review (35 eligible studies) investigates how individuals’ charitable giving is affected by the giving of others. Its major contribution is to extend the previous literature by proposing a new mechanism of decision making in charitable giving through an important psychological construct (similarity). It also identifies five critical factors that could help to explain inconsistent findings of similarity effects on two measures of charitable giving (giving propensity and giving amount). It also contributes to identifying a literature gap, suggesting future research directions, and providing important implications to fund-raising practice.


Social influence Conformity Charitable donations Peer influence Similarity 



Yuan Tian was supported by the doctoral dissertation grant from the Research Department of Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University for this study, and Sara Konrath was supported by grants from the John Templeton Foundation (#47993 and 57942) and from the Corporation for National and Community Service (Grant # 17REHIN002) while writing this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of International and Public AffairsShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Lilly Family School of PhilanthropyIndiana UniversityIndianapolisUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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