What Kind of Cause Unites A Crowd? Understanding Crowdfunding As Collective Action


Rob Gleasure
Joseph Feller


This paper explores the types of shared goals that underlie fundraising activities in web-enabled charitable crowdfunding, as well as how these goals unite donors and fundseekers. A grounded theory analysis is undertaken using a stratified sample of records from Pledgie.com, a crowdfunding website dedicated to charitable causes. Content analysis of these records reveals three types of information sharing associated with successful fundraising (1) information supporting impact (2) information supporting morality and (3) information supporting external relationships. These information types are related back to existing literature on collective action to explain how and why communities of donors form around specific fundraising initiatives. Findings suggest that while most existing models of charitable crowdfunding adopt a view of information sharing based on dyadic communication between donors and fundseekers, charitable crowdfunding should also be viewed as a technological paradigm capable of forming action-oriented collectives based around specific causes, beliefs, and/or identities.

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August, 2018

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