Researching the crowd: Implications on philanthropic crowdfunding and donor characteristics during a pandemic

Claire van Teunenbroek*, Sandra Hasanefendic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


New online forms of giving have appeared next to more traditional ways like door-to-door collections. One of these new forms is philanthropic crowdfunding: donation- and reward-based crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a promising method for mobilising and recruiting donors who may be unreachable via traditional methods. We analysed online giving via crowdfunding, focusing on donor characteristics and giving behaviour before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our analysis comprises survey research (n = 2125) observing giving behaviour on an individual level for both donors and non-donors. Our contributions are twofold. First, we report on the characteristics of donors who give to crowdfunding sources and in relation to donors who give via a door-to-door (i.e., ‘traditional’) collection focusing on micro- rather than macro-level data. Second, we compare the giving behaviour via crowdfunding with references to door-to-door collections before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We show that the percentage of individuals supporting crowdfunding did not increase between 2018 (11%) and 2020 (12%). Regarding the amount, donors donated 13% higher amounts in 2020, but the difference was not significant. Regarding the characteristics of donors, we find that social media has a substantive role in giving via crowdfunding irrespective of other personal markers such as age, education, income, and gender, while this is not relevant in the case of door-to-door collection. Moreover, most people give to crowdfunding projects that are connected to an acquaintance, which signals that familiarity with the person initiating the crowdfunding projects plays a role. We conclude that crowdfunding, relative to more traditional giving, focuses more on informal giving than formal giving. Such an understanding requires different strategies and stimuli to increase giving via crowdfunding.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1773
JournalJournal of Philanthropy and Marketing
Issue number1
Early online date11 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • donation-based crowdfunding
  • donor characteristics
  • giving behaviour
  • reward-based crowdfunding


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