Image-conscious people contribute to greater number of crowdfunding campaigns but give less money, study finds

Online funders driven by interest in 'personal branding', say researchers

Chris Baynes
Saturday 10 March 2018 21:32
People who are image-conscious tend to contribute to more online crowdfunding pages, but give less money, researchers found
People who are image-conscious tend to contribute to more online crowdfunding pages, but give less money, researchers found

Image-conscious people tend to support more crowdfunding campaigns, but give less money, according to a new research.

Funders who have a public profile with a photo are more conscious of their “personal branding” and engage with a greater number of fundraising campaigns than those who do not, a study by the University of Portsmouth found.

However, the total money they contribute to each project is lower than the sums given by those without a photo profile, researchers discovered.

Dr Joe Cox, principal lecturer in economics and finance, said: “On the basis of our work, we conclude that self-presentation and online ‘personal branding’ is shown to have a significant effect on the behaviour of funders.

“This behaviour is partly influenced by a person’s desire for image enhancement and their motivations to improve social image.”

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, used data from social crowdfunding platform Lendwithcare, where details on the number of loans made by an individual are displayed publicly but the amount of money given is not.

After combining the results of a survey with contributors with recorded patterns of actual funding activity, the researchers found self-presentation was linked with significant variations in the behaviour of online funders, especially in terms of their visible and non-visible activities.

Dr Cox added: “By contrast, we found no evidence of significant variations in lending behaviour according to levels of income, social capital or religiosity.

“These factors have been shown to relate positively and significantly to pro-social behaviours and philanthropy in offline settings, suggesting that the relationships between these variables may be different in online contexts.

“These findings contribute to the emerging research on digital philanthropy and self-presentation in online environments.

“Our research also highlights how platform owners can potentially influence the behaviour of self-presenting users by encouraging their funders to think carefully about the creation of public profiles, while also making strategic decisions as to the lending activities that should be made publicly visible.”

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