Transactions Costs and Social Distance in Philanthropy: Evidence from a Field Experiment

We use data from a field experiment at Kiva, the online microfinance platform, to examine the role of transactions costs and social distance. Requests for loans are either written in English or another language, and our treatment consists of posting requests in the latter category with or without translation. We find evidence that relatively small transactions costs have a large effect on the share of funding coming from speakers of languages other than that in which the request was written. Social distance plays a smaller role in funding decisions.