From the Freakonomics blog:
Would you rather donate $100 to a charity you believe in, or spend $50 in your favorite shop?
That’s the crux of an offer
SunTrust bank is making to people who open new checking accounts with
the bank between now and the end of the year: receive a $50 gift card,
or have SunTrust donate $100 to the charity of your choice.
I hope that at some point Suntrust will reveal the results of this promo. It would be very interesting to learn what people chose to do, especially in these tough economic times. Here’s an interesting comment they received:
I think the likelihood people would want the $100 donated to charity is greater than if it was thus:
Your account has a $50 annual fee. Alternatively, SunTrust can deduct $100 and donate it to the charity of your choice.
The net to the customer is the same, but I think people are much
more willing to sacrifice a $50 gift for charity than to double a $50
expense for charity.
— Posted by MikeM
The commenter is absolutely right. I’m more likely to donate the money that I see as "found money" which is what the promotion would be, versus money being deducted from my account even though the end result is the same: $50 out of my pocket.