Examining charitable giving in real-world online donations

Matthew R. Sisco, Elke U. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The current study uses big data to study prosocial behavior by analyzing donations made on the GoFundMe platform. In a dataset of more than $44 million in online donations, we find that 21% were made while opting to be anonymous to the public, with survey results indicating that 11% of these anonymous donations (2.3% of all donations) are not attributable to any egoistic goal. Additionally, we find that donors gave significantly more to recipients who had the same last name as them. We find evidence that men and women donated more when more donors of the opposite sex were visible on the screen at the time of donating. Our results suggest that men and women were both significantly affected by the average donation amounts visible at the time of their decisions, and men were influenced more. We find that women expressed significantly more empathy than men in messages accompanying their donations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3968
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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