Fundraising through online social networks: A field experiment on peer-to-peer solicitation Academic Article uri icon


  • Two main reasons why people donate to charity are that they have been asked and asked by someone they care about. One would therefore expect that charitable organizations could benefit from peer-to-peer fundraising if they were able to persuade donors to do so for them. However, little is known on the costs and benefits of asking donors to fundraise. We investigate this by implementing a field experiment embedded in an online giving organization's web page. In our experiment, donors who have completed an online transaction were randomly asked to share having donated by posting on their Facebook (FB) wall or by sending a private message to a friend on FB. To further explore the impact of incentives on the willingness to fundraise, donors were also assigned to one of three treatments in which the organization added either $0, $1 or $5 in the donor's name in exchange for sharing the information. We have several findings: (1) Donors respond to incentives: larger add-on donations increase the willingness to post having made a donation. (2) Nuisance costs may be important: willingness to post is over two times higher among those already logged into FB. (3) The type of ask matters: willingness to post via one's wall or via a private message is different. (4) There are benefits to incentivizing peer-to-peer fundraising in increased new donations. 2014 Elsevier B.V.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 44.13

author list (cited authors)

  • Castillo, M., Petrie, R., & Wardell, C.

citation count

  • 81

complete list of authors

  • Castillo, Marco||Petrie, Ragan||Wardell, Clarence

publication date

  • June 2014