The role of Online Identity on Donations

The role of Online Identity on Donations to Nonprofit Organizations in Online Health Campaigns

by Anna Priante, Ariana Need, Tijs van den Broek, and Djoerd Hiemstra

Nonprofit Organizations largely use social media to mobilize people for social causes and encourage participation in collective action, such as advocacy campaigns. However, little is known about the micro-level mechanisms that drive individual mobilization outcomes that require a substantial effort in participation such as collecting donations during advocacy campaigns. By answering the call to combine motivational and structural factors that explain the mechanisms driving people’s engagement in collective action via social media, we focus on the role of online social identity as a motivator to engage in campaigns, and on individual network positions as opportunity structures for online mobilization. Using the 2014 US Movember health movement campaign on Twitter as an empirical context, we adopt a multi-method approach combining Natural Language Processing, social network analysis and multivariate regression analysis to investigate the effects of online social identity and structural network position on the amount of collected donations for medical research during campaign. We find that only social identities related to occupations and professions have significant effects on the amount of collected donation, whereas network position matters when movement members are central in the communication process because they connect different cohesive subgroups, or communities of the network, characterized by the prevalence of weak ties. We show the importance of integrating the study of identity and network to advance our understanding of online micro-mobilization dynamics. This study offers contributions to research at the intersection of research on the non-profit sector, social movements, media and communication, and health fundraising.

To be presented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management on 14 August 2018 in Chicago, USA

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