We study how mobile-based economic incentives and environments influence charitable giving behavior. In contrast to traditional fund-raising, we consider the use of mobile devices to generate giving in small denominations, which we term micro-giving. Collaborating with a US-based mobile app provider, we incorporate functionality that allows users to contribute their in-app reward points to charity.

To encourage donation, we use economic incentives in the form of monetary subsidies, i.e., rebates or matching grants, as well as digital nudges in the form of push notifications. We study the effects of these factors on giving behavior across two large-scale field experiments. Focusing on the different aspects of the mobile medium that could differentially impact charitable giving behavior – namely private and personal nature – we examine how the visibility of donation decisions affects giving behavior by toggling audience effects.

Results show that the effectiveness of incentives is contingent on the magnitude of the incentive as well as the extent to which individual decisions are visible to others. This study provides early examples of empirical evidence to advance technology-augmented charitable giving to provide insights for non-profit organizations as well as mobile service providers.