First, we implore you … don't shoot the messengers!

Here's a study, first reported in a June 15 NYT column, that looked at door-to-door fundraising solicitation and concluded that the strongest incentive for generating the gift was to send a more attractive female to do the … asking!

No joke. The University of Chicago prof, John A. List, who did this field test is described by Steven Leavitt, co-author of Freakonomics, as the young economist most likely to win a Nobel Prize.

The original Times column, written by Tyler Cowen, was making a broader point that research indicates most donors do not behave “rationally,” claiming that donors “often tolerate high administrative costs, fail to monitor charities and do not insist on measurable results …” And that, as a result, “failing causes” are not weeded out.

This is a crucial proposition with many implications for philanthropic stewardship, accountability and donor loyalty. We will come back to this proposition many times in the life of this blog!

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