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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

How did the COVID-19 crisis change the social media peer-to-peer fundraising landscape?

Published: May 25, 2021


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


Non-profit organizations (NPOs) often rely on the success of their fundraising activities for funding. Previous research indicates that a crisis with a severe negative economic impact substantially harms donations. In this research, we study the COVID-19 crisis’s impact on a new, digital fundraising channel: social media peer-to-peer fundraising. This channel enables any social media user to raise funds for an NPO through their personal network. The channel thus substantially extends an NPO’s reach. In contrast to past crisis research findings, we observe a positive fundraising spike of +530% in the first month of the COVID-19 crisis, which receded only partially. Hence, we study what drove this shift and whether all NPOs benefited equally. Our research shows for this channel that during a crisis, an NPO’s size and its cause matters to fundraiser initiators.