Abstract

Matching grants are a prevalent mechanism for funding environmental, conservation, and natural resource projects. However, economists have largely been silent regarding the potential benefits of these mechanisms at increasing voluntary contributions. To examine the behavioral responses to different match levels, this research uses controlled laboratory experiments with generically framed instructions and introduces a general-form matching-grant mechanism, referred to as the proportional contribution mechanism (PCM). Results show that contributions are positively correlated with both the match and the induced value of the public good even when a dominant strategy is free-riding. An implication of this partial demand revelation result is that manifestations of this type of "helping hand" social preference should be counted in benefit-cost analysis.