Go up one level

Hey Buddy Can You Spare a Dime?
 

How Public Pressure and Visibilty Affects Free Ridership in Charitable Giving
 

Son Nguyen
The University of Memphis
 
Spring 1998
 

This research paper is a partial requirement
for the completion of Econ 4920 Senior Seminar under the supervision of

Dr. K. K. Fung



Abstract

      People donate for many different reasons. People choose not to donate for one reason; they do not wish to incur the costs of making the donation. In situations where these costs can be avoided but the benefits can still be enjoyed is when free riders come into play. In this game morals, ethics, and values are not the major players, rather it is public pressure and visibility. These two forces play the leading role because the higher the pressure the more likely an individual will donate and the higher the visibility the less likely an individual will free ride.

Introduction

        Why do people donate to charity under different situations? The issue that is most often overlooked or avoided is donating not because of personal interests or values rather it is because of being pressured to do so or just to look good. When are people put in these pressure situations and how much does it influence them to donate? This pressure can play a significant role on all facets of donating. This pressure is put on mainly through visibility. How much more will an individual choose to donate may depend on how visible the situation is. The purpose of this paper is to determine how much public pressure and visibility influence an individualís willingness to donate. This is an issue that not many people would like to address because many would say they do so because it is a good cause. Most people will not admit to donating because of pressure. My hypothesis is when people are put under these pressure situations they will donate significantly more as opposed to no pressure situations. Also, does the visibility of the situation determine the individualís decision on whether to free ride or not? In the next part of my paper I will examine how public pressure and visibility affect peopleís decisions on donating to charity and how the free-ridership theory applies.

Collectively Provided Goods and the Free-Ridership Theory

        An individual who free rides is one who derives benefits from a collectively consumed good but pays no part of its cost (Sharp 92). These "collectively consumed goods" are collectively provided through non- profit or charitable organizations such as public broadcasting, churches, or other organizations like the United Way. A collectively provided good yields benefits to each person within a group and no one person in the group can identify the specific part of the benefit he or she receives. In addition, the benefits of a collectively provided good cannot be easily excluded from any member of the group (Sharp91). These goods create a free rider problem because people can consume these goods without paying for them. This is not possible with private goods since the only way to reap benefits from a private good is to pay for them. There are no spillover benefits with private goods as there are with collectively provided goods. A collectively provided good can be consumed simultaneously by everyone and from which no one can be easily excluded.This is the case with goods provided by charities. The spillover benefits can be enjoyed by anyone. Private companies on the other hand will under-produce collective goods because free riders will not pay them the value they receive from the goods ( www.econ.iaste.edu) .

The graph in Figure 1.1 illustrates the production of collectively provided goods with and without free-ridership (Browning 599).
 


      The total demand curve D g (total demand without free-ridership) is derived from a vertical summation of individual demand curves such as d g1 and d g2 .Here, d g1 and d g2 are correctly represented private demand curves without any attempt to free ride on other parties' contribution. On the other hand, total demand curve D p (total demand with partial free-ridership) is derived from a vertical summation of private demand curves such as d p1 and d p2 . Here, the private demand curves under-represent the true demand in an attempt to free ride on other parties' contribution. We can visualize d p1 as an under-representation of d g1 and d p2 an under-representation of d g2 .

        For private goods where one person's consumption excludes other persons from consuming the same unit of good, total demand curve represents the horizontal summation of individual demand curves. But with collectively provided and consumed goods, as in this case, the marginal benefit is not the value to any one person alone since many people benefit simultaneously from the same unit. Instead, the marginal benefits of every person who values an additional unit of the collective good is vertically summed to show the publicís marginal benefit. Also, with collectively provided goods,enough people must buy into it or it will not produce. Q A on the graph is the socially optimal point (where MC=MB) to produce without free-ridership.

        With free-ridership the demand curve D p is lower therefore Q B on the graph becomes the point of production. From the graph, output is much less at Q B than the socially optimal output at Q A .

        The standard allocative rule for collectively provided goods is to invest in public goods up to the point where marginal social benefits equal marginal social costs (Collard31). Marginal benefit is the increase in the total benefits due to a one-unit increase in an economic activity. Marginal cost is the increase in total costs due to a one- unit increase in an economic activity (Sharp95).

        Free riders rationalize, "why should I incur costs, when their counterparts are enjoying the benefits without paying for it." Observing this type of behavior will tend to cause that person to free ride also. This is the only one reason why people choose to participate in free rider behavior. Another more common and interesting reason why people actually engage in free rider behavior is whether they will be caught doing it or not. A person is definitely more likely to free ride if he can do it without being detected. These individuals can hide in a crowd so their actions become less identifiable.

        What goes through the mind of one who is approached by someone or called by someone trying to solicit a donation? Does the person feel pressured or embarrassed to donate? When he does make the pledge, why would he follow through on his commitment?It could be several reasons to fulfill his pledge: worthy causes, personal feelings, avoid further pressure, and many others. According to a recent sermon done by Dr. Sam Shaw, senior pastor at Germantown Baptist church,he listed three reasons why people donate: status or prestige to gain respect and admiration in their community, to reduce guilt, and to avoid social ostracism from not giving. All these reasons stem for being in a highly visible situation. How and when an individual chooses to free ride depend son how much he is in the public eye. For the next part of this paper I will examine different levels of visible situations and how it affects donating and free rider behavior.

Research Methodology

        The five organizations that I planned to analyze were the Alumni Association at the University of Memphis,WKNO Channel 10 in Memphis, TN, Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown, TN, West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson, TN, and Cummins Engine Company in Memphis, TN. For the Alumni Association and WKNO, I intended to compare the results of the Alumniís phone campaign with the results of WKNOís on air pledge drive to see which method was more effective and examine how much pressure and visibility affects their donations. To obtain this data I had interviews with Jeannie Byasee, director the Alumni Associationís phone campaign, and Susan Westfall, coordinator of WKNOís on air pledge drive.

        For Germantown Baptist Church and West Jackson Baptist Church, my goal was to compare two churches that had different methods of donating and how the level of visibility in a bigger church versus a smaller church affects the donating behavior. To acquire the data, I attended both churches and obtained a copy of each of their Sunday programs. I also interviewed a deacon at one of the churches.

        Finally, for Cummins Engine Company I needed a very high pressure and visibility situation to see an extreme case of its affect on donation behavior. I interviewed Charlie Jones, human resource manager, on the subject of mandatory meetings to solicit donations to the United Way.

Phone-a-thon vs. Pledge-a-thon

        Beginning with the Alumni Association at the University of Memphis and WKNO Channel 10 based in Memphis, Tennessee, I will compare their methods of pledge drives. The difference in the two is that the Alumni Association calls the people and solicits the donation, whereas WKNOís on-air pledge drive, the people call in wanting to make a donation.

        According to an interview with Jeannie Byassee, annual giving director of the Alumni Association,the average fulfillment rate for the past 3 years was 71%. Fulfillment rate refers to how many people who made a pledge over the phone actually made the payment.
 
 


Table 1.1 Fulfillment Rates from Donations to the Alumni Association,University of Memphis

Year
Fulfillment Rate 
1994-1995 *
80%
1995-1996
65%
1996-1997
68%

* Note that for 1994-1995, a mail fundraising campaign was done as prerequisite for the phone campaign. Mail solicitations were sent out right before the phone campaign. For the following two years no mail campaign was initiated.
Data Source: 3/12/98 Interview with Jeannie Byasse,Annual Giving Director, University of Memphis

        The preceding figures represent the fulfillment rates after all three reminder letters are sent. Reminder letters are letters sent out to make sure or remind the donors to fulfill their pledge. The fulfillment rates before the reminder letters are sent out are significantly lower than after the letters have been sent.
 


Table 1.2 Average Fulfillment Rates After Each Reminder Letter from September to November 1997 for the Alumni Association, University of Memphis

Average Fulfillment Rate (before reminders) After First Reminder After Second Reminder  After Third Reminder
8% 23% 40% 71%

Data Source: 3/12/98 Interview with Jeannie Byasse,Annual Giving Director, Alumni Association, University of Memphis

        The period in between each reminder letter was approximately two weeks. As you can see the reminder letters are extremely effective in increasing the fulfillment rates.

        For the WKNO, Channel 10 on-air pledge drive, according to a phone interview with Susan Westfall, director of the program, the fulfillment rate is 98%. A follow-up letter is sent out to the remaining 2% who do not follow through on their pledge resulting in an additional 1% for a total of a 99% fulfillment rate. Naturally these results are expected since the people are the ones calling WKNO and not vice versa as the case with the Alumni Association. Another interesting fact is that only about 7% of the viewers of WKNO call in and pledge, whereas approximately 30% of the alumni called make a pledge. So which is more effective? According to the above data each percentage is multiplied to see how many out of a thousand will donate shown as follows:

        For WKNO, the 7 percent of people who watch that donate is multiplied by 1000 which equals 70. Out of that 70, 99 percent is fulfilled which equals 69.3. So 69.3 out of every thousand people who watch donate to WKNOís pledge drives. For the Alumni Association, the 30 percent of the people contacted that donate multiplied by 1000 which equals 300. Out of that 300, 71 percent is fulfilled which equals 213. So 213 out of every thousand people who are contacted donate to the Alumni Association.
 
 


Table 1.3 Actual Number of People Donating to WKNO Channel 10 in Memphis, TN and the Alumni Association, University of Memphis

# of people % pledge % pledges fulfilled Total Donors Per 1000  Final % Donated
WKNO 1000 7% 99% 69.3 6.9%
Alumni 1000 31% 71% 213 21.3%

Data Source: 3/10/98 phone interview with Susan Westfall, coordinator of WKNOís Channel 10 on-air pledge drive, Memphis, TN
3/12/98 Interview with Jeannie Byasse, Annual Giving Director, Alumni Association, University of Memphis

        According to a market study done by Ruffalo, Cody, and Associates the average per capita donation to the Alumni phone-a-thon in 1997 was $47.59 (Ruffalo 1998). For the WKNO pledge drive the average donation per person is around $60 according to Susan Westfall. From this data the break-even point can be calculated. The break-even point is where the total amount donated for the Alumni Association is equal to the total amount donated for WKNO. Using the Alumni data as the control on the left side on all equations, the following series of calculations shows the percentage, number of people, and per capita donation required of WKNOís on-air pledge drive to equal the same amount donated by the Alumni Associationís phone campaign. When these figures are computed, the two categories other than the one being calculated remain constant.
 
 
Alumni WKNO
( % donated) (# of people) (average donation) = ( % donated) (# of people) (average donation)

The following equation calculates the required percentage rate while the per capita and number of donors remain constant:
21.3% * 1000 (people) * $47.59 = X% * 1000 (people) * $60
X = 16.9%

The following equation calculates the required number of people while the percentage rate and per capita donated remains constant:
21.3% * 1000 (people) * $47.59 = 6.9% * X (people) * $60
X = 2448 people

The following equation calculates the required per capita donation while the percentage rate and number of people remain constant:
21.3% * 1000 (people) * $47.59 = 6.9% * 1000 (people) * X (amount)
X = $146.91 per donation
 
 

Table 1.4 Required Figures of WKNO Channel 10 in Memphis, TN to Equal the Same Amount Donated by the Alumni Association, University of Memphis

WKNO 
Channel 10 
Memphis, TN
% of donors per 1000 donors while per capita donated remains constant  Potential # of donors while per capita donated and % donated remains constant Per capita donation 
Per 1000 donors while % of donors remains constant
Actual Figures 6.9% 1000 $60
Break-Even Figures 16.9% 2448 $146.91

Data Source:
3/10/98 phone interview with Susan Westfall, coordinator of WKNOís on-air pledge drive
3/12/98 Interview with Jeannie Byasse, Annual Giving Director, Alumni Association

        As you can see, WKNO has to increase their results in at least one of the three categories while the remaining two categories stay constant in order to equal the same total amount donated by the Alumni Associationís phone-a-thon.

        From these calculations, it is demonstrated that the Alumni Associationís phone campaign is much more effective. Although the per capita donated is more for WKNO, the percentage of people donating is relatively much less, therefore the Alumniís Associationís phone-a-thon is more successful. The Alumniís phone-a-thon is more effective because more pressure is put on the people to donate and along with the follow up letters the risk of detection is higher therefore the fulfillment rates go up. With the WKNOís pledge drive there is absolutely no pressure to donate and no risk of detection.

Big Church vs. Little Church

        The next observation I made was examining donating to churches by comparing the offerings at Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown, Tennessee with West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee. According to the April 5 program at Germantown Baptist Church, the Sunday worship attendance averages 3000. At West Jackson it is around 1000 according to its April 5 program. The average total offering per week at Germantown Baptist is approximately $90,000 and at West Jackson it is around $30,000 per week.
 
 


Table 2.1 Donation Patterns in Small vs. Big Churches

Congregation Avg. $ donated Per week Average income per member $ donated  per person per year % of income donated
West Jackson 1000 $30,000 $25,987 
per year
$1560 6.0%
Germantown Baptist 3000 $90,000 $79,892 
per year
$1560 1.9%

Data source:
4/5/98 church programs for West Jackson Baptist Church, Jackson, TN and Germantown Baptist Church, Germantown, TN
Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide, Rand McNally,1995

        Although the amount donated per person is the same, an important fact that must be taken in consideration is the average yearly median income in 1993 for Germantown is $79,892 a year and for Jackson it is $25,987 a year. People living in Germantown make more than three times as much as people living in Jackson on average(Rand McNally 1993). The Baptist religion preaches that you must tithe,which is give a tenth of your income every year to the church. From the above data, Germantown residents give only 1.9 % of their yearly income whereas at West Jackson, the people give 6 % of their yearly income.

        When the percentages are compared, it results in West Jackson giving significantly more proportionally than Germantown Baptist. To determine why the congregation at West Jackson gives so much more, an analysis of the methods of giving must be done.

        These two churches have different methods of offerings each Sunday. At Germantown Baptist, the offering plate is not passed; instead there are drop boxes at the end of each aisle where the people can drop of their contribution in envelopes as they leave. At West Jackson, the offering plate is passed along every aisle and the people drop envelopes with either checks or cash into the plate. From my observation,about 1 out of every 20 people dropped money into the drop boxes, whereas at West Jackson about 6 out of every 10 people give at the plate. Also at West Jackson a commitment card is sent out every month, soliciting a set amount to donate every week. Germantown Baptist does not have that. Obviously the pressure and visibility in giving plays an important role in this case. With Germantown there is virtually no pressure to give. There is not even an usher standing next to the drop boxes. Also since the church is so big, people are less likely to be noticed if they do or do not give.In my situation, I just sat in the balcony when I went and no one noticed that it was my first time visiting. At West Jackson giving is much more visible. Everyone sees everyone else donating to the plate, which creates pressure for him or her to donate also. In addition with the commitment cards, someone knows that they should be donating and with such a small congregation everyone is much more visible.

High Visibility vs. Higher Visibility

        This last situation is the most visible and has the most pressure to give. It occurs at Cummins Engine Company, my place of employment. According to Charlie Jones, human resources manager, all employees must attend mandatory meetings where they persuade and motivate its employees to give to the United Way.
 


Table 3.1 Amount Donated Per Employee and Participation Rate for 1997 at Cummins Engine Co., Memphis, TN

Total Donated Total Employee Participating %Participation $Per Employee
$27,002.25 163 125 76.69% 216.02

Data Source: 3/6/98 Interview with Charlie Jones, Human Resources Manager at Cummins Engine Co., Memphis, TN

        At these meetings each employee must sign a form passed throughout the room. Not only is there pressure to pledge an amount of money, but there is pressure to pledge a high amount of money. Everyone has to sign the form whether they intend to donate or not. The company also makes it convenient to donate through monthly check deductions, which accounts for 99 percent of how the employees donate.Also, the company matches 50 percent of each donation. These incentives along with high pressure and visibility result in a very high participation rate. The amount donated per person is also very high. Although the amount per person donated is higher for the churches, there is not as much religious pressure to donate at the work place as much as there is in church. The main pressure in this situation comes from being highly visible. There is little or no room to free ride since everyone is watching.

Why the Phone-a-thon is More Effective than the Pledge-a-thon

        The theory of free-ridership can explain why the phone-a-thon was more successful than the pledge drive. First with the Alumni Association, free ridership plays a role in the low fulfillment rates. When alumni are called they are definitely pressured or embarrassed to make a donation. From an actual script of the phone solicitation, the caller has to make at least four attempts to solicit a pledge before he can take no for an answer. Because of this pressure, alumni are embarrassed into donating even when they do not wish to. When the time comes to follow through on their pledge, theoretically 29% choose not to because of free rider behavior, which is they feel as if they do not need to donate because everyone else will, and they can still reap the benefits of the collectively provided good. Donating to the Alumni Association is like donating to charity therefore it is a collectively provided good and collectively provided goods create the free rider problem as mentioned before. When these people are put in these pressure situations it is very difficult to say no, therefore they say yes to avoid embarrassment. Furthermore, before the reminder letters are sent out, the non-donors feel if they do not donate then who would ever know. After the reminder letters are sent the non-donors feel the pressure of being detected, therefore it deters their free rider behavior. A considerable level of visibility is present in this situation because the non-donors know that someone else knows that they are not donating through the reminder letters. This is the reason why the reminder letters are so successful.

        For WKNOís pledge drive, the 98 percent fulfillment rate is much higher but the 7 percent response rate is much lower. The theory of free-ridership also can explain this behavior. Since almost everyone has access to public TV regardless of their donation, then the 93% who did not call in did so because they were engaging in free rider behavior. They were able to evade costs while continuing to reap benefits. Since public broadcasting has non-exclusion and non-diminishing characteristics, which means almost anyone can watch as much as they want, it is a collectively provided good. Again with collectively provided goods there is free rider behavior. Also, most people are watching in the privacy of their own homes, so there is virtually no pressure from visibility in this situation. From the data obtained here, pressure and visibility plays a very significant role on how people donate. The higher pressure and visibility the more individuals are likely to donate seen in how much more successful the Alumni Associationís phone-a-thon was over WKNOís pledge drive.

Why the Big Church is Less Effective than the Little Church

        The free rider theory can also explain why more people donate at West Jackson than at Germantown Baptist. The reason that people do not give at a big church is because they are less likely to be noticed therefore induces that free rider behavior. They can still enjoy the moral satisfaction of easing their conscience by going to church but not having to pay the costs. If Germantown Baptist utilizes more visible methods of obtaining donations such as placing an usher next to the drop box to greet and thank the people who donate, then theoretically many more people would donate. Since they are being noticed, they are less likely to free ride because they would feel embarrassed from not donating when someone is there to acknowledge their efforts. For West Jackson, pressure and visibility is high therefore the decision to free ride is much more difficult since they can be detected. Also with commitment cards the members are forced to participate fully. Essentially they are told what is required of them so the free riders are screened out.

Evidence From Secondary Research

        According to IRS statistics on charitable giving using data from itemized federal income tax returns(only 30% of the filers itemize contributions), the average charitable contribution per itemized return was $2449 in 1995 and 45 percent of this goes to religious institutions and faith-based agencies ( Commercial Appeal, Dec. 8, 1997). This matches a study done by the Family Expenditure Survey who surveyed approximately 7000 households a year to determine how much a family donates. The results were just under 30 percent of the 7000 households in the 1993-1994 were observed giving to charity (Fiscal Studies 1997).

        As previously stated from my research, I have found that individuals will engage in free rider behavior where the visibility is the lowest, such as in public broadcasting. This production of collectively consumed good can completely fall apart because of the incentives that induce some people to become free riders are the greatest since it is extremely difficult to be excluded from the benefits of the good. This is a major reason why public radio programs such as NPR are in such need of financial assistance. Although the radio industry has been booming as of lately and more people are listening and donating, it is still not enough to cover the increasing costs. While NPR gets little money directly from the government, the network receives 60 percent of its operating budget (59 million in 1995) from dues paid by its 515 member stations, which do depend on the federal money. Stations that broadcast the full menu of NPR news programs are required to send 10.2 percent of their revenues back to NPR ( Commercial Appeal August 8, 1995). As you can see, if it were not for federal funding the public broadcasting system may not survive since the majority of its funding is coming from the government and not from the people. This indicates how the majority of the people do not understand the value of donating to public broadcasting. Public broadcasting may be worth so much to many, but the majority do not feel compelled to support it. Ironically, most people who watch or listen to public broadcasting are generally more educated. They are aware that donating to the local public TV or radio station not only raises the program quality and their enjoyment, but also improves the quality of life in the community. Yet the majority will continue to free ride because they know they can get away with it.

Conclusion

        Giving to charity can be rewarding for many people, but when pressure and visibility comes into play, incentives are not because of worthy cause or commitment, rather it is to avoid embarrassment or social ostracism. Which is more of a common way why people give is difficult to determine, but what can be determined through my research is why people do not give. They choose not to give because they are engaging in free rider behavior. Although pressure may bring more people to donate, it captures more of the wrong type of people who donate because of the wrong reasons, which is because of pressure. But when the pressure is off, these people are much more likely to free ride compared to individuals who donate because of other reasons. To conclude the higher the pressure the more people are likely to donate and the higher the visibility the less the people are likely to free ride. Ultimately, individuals have two choices or costs when put under these situations, suffer the embarrassment from not donating or donate the actual money. Now which would you choose?

Works Cited

Data Sources

Chronology of How This Paper Came About

        At the end of the fall semester of 1997, Dr. Fung sent out an email and a letter requesting that we start thinking about a topic now and to see him during the break. After viewing his website and the syllabus, I emailed him back with a couple of topics that I thought were interesting. He emailed me back stating not to email him again until I read his syllabus, which I had already did. That reply discouraged me from seeing him during the break. So right from the beginning I knew that Dr. Fung is going to be very hard to please and this paper will be one of the most difficult projects that I have ever faced.

        Classes began and I thought of one topic that I was sure Dr. Fung would like, plastic surgery, particularly enlargement type surgery. I presented the topic, but as soon as I did it was rejected. Dr. Fung rejected it because the data would be entirely too difficult to collect. When I thought about it, he was right. How many people would actually admit to plastic surgery, much less let me interview them about it.

        I went through several different topics for about the entire first month and the majority rejected because of difficulty in collecting data. I was thinking the horror stories I heard about this class were true. Everyone had told me not to procrastinate and pick a topic now, but no one told me how hard it would be to pick a topic. Dr. Fung suggested that I come read some articles that he had set aside as interesting topics I can do. The odd thing was after I read these article sand picked some out, he still rejected them, again because of not being able to collect data. I was starting to panic because I thought I would end up like everyone else that I had talked to who had taken the course, procrastinating until the end of the semester. I certainly did not want to do that. I found myself constantly thinking about possible topics almost every second that I had available. I vigorously searched Nexis-Lexis, newspapers, and magazines with little or no success. Finally, in class one day, Dr. Fung brought up the topic of donations at church. He was wondering why do 90% donate in church but only 5% to telethons. He suggested examining the free-ridership theory and how people donate just to look good. At the time I did not know much about free-ridership or even how it applies, and thought it might be boring, so I quickly dismissed the subject.

        I went to talk to a few other Economics professors about a topic, but they could not even help me. I went to see Dr. Fung again, and he brought up the donation and free-ridership topic again. He was very interested in the topic and somehow he got me interested too. So I finally settled on doing my paper on free-ridership and donations to charity, although I had no clue how to link the two together.

        Now that I had a topic, which I thought was the most difficult part, I had to start doing research. I was not sure where to begin. Dr. Fung suggested I contact the development office and the Salvation Army. My initial attempt to solicit data from strangers were not very successful. I did not enjoy calling on people and trying to find information on what I needed because I felt as if I annoyed them. After a day of unsuccessful phone calls, I went over why I was not getting any information. It was because I had no idea what I was looking for.

        For the next few days, I searched the Nexis-Lexis database and found what I thought at the time,some interesting articles. But after reading them thoroughly, I still did not know where to go. I went to see Dr. Fung again and he explained why I was having so much trouble. I was focusing on why people donate, which is very difficult to determine, when I should have been concentrating on how do people donate in different situations. Little did I know that he was masterfully leading me into finding the type data I needed to apply the free-ridership theory to. He suggested that I compare different methods of donations in different organizations. That led me on the right track because I had a much better grasp on what I was looking for. After a few more emails and phone calls asking the right questions, I got my first interview with the Alumni Association at the University of Memphis and WKNO Channel 10.

        I obtained a lot of data and presented it to Dr. Fung. All he was interested in was the fulfillment rates from each type of donation campaign. I thought out of all that data I got that this was the only thing he was looking for? He also said I had enough to write my first draft.

        I was having quite a bit of trouble writing my first draft, because I could not con free-ridership with the data I had. The next day in class, Dr. Fung explained the conion to me. I was just looking at it in the wrong way and trying to make things more complicated than it actually was. I researched what free-ridership was, but did not know how to apply the theory to my data. Then Dr. Fung brought up one word that would break everything wide open, visibility. People will free ride when they are less visible. It all became very clear to me that the data I had was different situations of different levels of visibility. I knew that more people would donate because of more pressure,but I never would have thought of the effects of visibility on free riding.This was the glue that held my paper together.

        Pretty soon the rest of my data was all coming together. My contacts were very helpful. All I had left to do was comparing different donation methods at churches. My original intent was to compare a church that had the majority of their donations coming from check deductions versus donations coming at the plate. After many phone calls to many different I churches I found that all churches have the majority of their donations coming from offerings at the plate. I went to two different churches and noticed how much bigger one was than the other. Then it hit me, the smaller the church the more visible you are, therefore the data from my observations and contacts at the two churches were also very useful.

        I finally had all the data I needed and whole lot more that I did not need. My first draft was terrible because I just wanted to have something written down by the deadline. Dr.Fung had a lot of suggestions and improvements. My breakthrough I believe was my second draft. What I thought I could do in one night took me four nights to do. This paper was definitely not like any other "night before"papers I have done previously. After my second draft was done, I felt I had a solid foundation to build on, according to Dr. Fungís comments. He was well pleased with my data. After the third draft, Dr. Fung suggested I do a diagram on how free-ridership affects the demand curve for collectively provided goods. It seemed even more complicated than its title. When he first explained it, I had no idea what he was talking about, but after a few questions from him I began to understand. It is amazing how he can make things that seem so complicated to be very clear and simple which was what he did for me during the whole semester. I basically did what just what Dr. Fung told me to do, and that put me on the right track. I turned in my fourth draft the weekend before finals feeling very confident over what I have accomplished. I received it back needing just a few finishing touches and I was about to be set free.

        From this paper I cannot even begin to describe how much I have learned. I know that I have spent more hours on this paper than all my previous papers combined in my long five-year college career. One of the most interesting and challenging aspects of doing this paper was going out and finding the data. At times I felt like a very frustrated reporter and probably developed a few ulcers, but after getting the information I needed, it felt good to find data on my own and not from some book. I also learned how economics can be part of anything and everything and identifying its role was exactly what I did in this paper. Terms such as visibility and pressure did not seem like economic terms to me before, but now I can see in and out on how economics applies.

        This was by far one of the most difficult and challenging projects I have ever embarked upon. I never would have thought that I was going to make it to the end and that was exactly Dr. Fung had told us. He knows his course is extremely challenging and anyone who takes it will end up changed in some way. I know my biggest change was having to work towards a goal every single day and not procrastinating. This course pushes you to the limit and some people respond by faltering under pressure or like me, dig down deep inside and push yourself to new horizons. Bringing out the drive and determination in yourself to accomplish a goal produces an unimaginable sense of fulfillment and confidence. I am very happy and relieved to get this over with. I feel as if I have accomplished a big feat in my life with this being the topping to my graduation. I now have a new admiration and respect for anyone who has made it through this class.

Go up one level