Peer pressure is one of the biggest driving factors behind fundraising online as people make generous donation to encourage their friends and peers to give more, research finds.
Using the fundraising for the London Marathon as a data source, analysts found that a single one-off donation of £100 by the runner who was being sponsored, increased the amount others donated by an average of £10.
Researchers, led by Professor Sarah Smith from Bristol University, analysed 300,000 donations to appeals on JustGiving and Virgin Money Giving to understand how donations from peers effects how others donate to charity.
The research found that the typical donation to a marathon runner was just over £30 but that when a larger donation was made and made public this raised subsequent pledges. They concluded that for every £10 above the average donation level it raised immediate future donations by around £2.50.
It also found that smaller donations had the opposite effect.
“We think that people have some idea of where they want to be in the distribution of donations – they use the information on previous donations to guide them in how much they give,” explained Professor Smith.
“Large donations, particularly if they occur early on, can have a big effect on how much subsequent donors give.”
“We find little evidence that donations signal charity quality – our preferred explanation is that donors use information on earlier donations to decide what is appropriate for them to give,” the research paper said.
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