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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Is social media peer-to-peer fundraising a curse or a blessing? Analysing the factors that affect the donation amount

Published: May 27, 2020


Beatrice Martin, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management; Christian Schlereth, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management


Social Media; Non-Profit; Referrals


Private donations are a cornerstone of the non-governmental organization (NGO) sector. In recent years social media has become a widely used tool for community building and brand management, but donations tended to occur directly to the NGOs. Now, a new concept is merging social media and peer-to-peer fundraisers, such as birthday fundraisers. The online social networks are the link between initiators, donors and NGOs. We investigate whether this new development is a blessing for NGOs or whether there are hidden pitfalls. We use publicly available transactional data and an experiment conducted with a partner NGO. We find that while social media peer-to-peer fundraising brings in donations cheaply for NGOs, they have little control over the system. The initiator of a peer-to-peer fundraiser and how he/she engages with the fundraiser influence the amount donated strongly and the NGO has limited means with which to guide the initiator.