Effectiveness of Social Media in Disaster Fundraising: Mobilizing the Public towards Voluntary Actions

Effectiveness of Social Media in Disaster Fundraising: Mobilizing the Public towards Voluntary Actions

Aya Okada (Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan), Yu Ishida (School of Project Design, Miyagi University, Sendai, Japan) and Naoto Yamauchi (Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP), Osaka University, Toyonaka, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPADA.2017010104


When a disaster strikes, nonprofit organizations face the need to mobilize resources as quickly as possible in a limited time frame. Given its characteristics to instantly spread information to masses of people, social media is considered one of the most effective ways for nonprofits to publicize opportunities to take voluntary actions. Despite the envisioned use, however, little has been examined about the effectiveness of social media in encouraging people to give. This paper takes the case of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear threat that struck Japan in 2011 to examine whether the use of social media was effective in nonprofit fundraising. Analyzing data collected in an original online survey, the authors find that the use of social media both before and after the disaster has a positive impact on the amount of donations that nonprofits raise.
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2. Social Media, Disasters, And Nonprofits

As an emerging new tool, social media has attracted much attention in both disaster studies and nonprofit studies. In this section, we review the literature in these bodies of work and highlight our contributions.

2.1. Social Media in Disaster Studies

Literature on disasters have explored wide range of possibilities that utilization of social media might bring about in disaster situations. Studies of crisis communication, in particular, highlight the potential use of social media in emergencies. Assuming the effectiveness of social media to share and spread information in the aftermath of disasters, both scholarship and practitioners have identified tips for its successful usage as part of organizational communication strategies (e.g. Haddow & Haddow, 2014; Veil et al., 2011). Social media enable all types of organizations engaged in relief activities to put out information instantly to the public, therefore giving earliest possible warning and collecting the most up-to-date information from the ground. These new tools are also used to share information and to facilitate communication as well as collaboration among different types of organizations engaged in response activities (Gao et al., 2011).

Studies also document and analyze the use of social media in actual cases of disasters. Researches conducted in Japan, for example, examine wide use of social media in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster (see Section 4 for the details of the disaster). Sekiya (2012) analyzed the purposes of Twitter use after the 2011 disaster. Kawai and Fujishiro (2013) analyzed how people used Twitter to obtain disaster-related information, and Yamamoto et al. (2012) examined the influence of Twitter use on people’s perception of “safety” and “anxiety” following the disaster.

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