Donors to crowdfunding efforts are slightly younger, less religious, and more likely to be single than those who give through traditional channels, a report from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI finds.
Based on a survey of more than fifteen hundred U.S. households conducted in September 2020, the report, Charitable Crowdfunding: Who Gives, to What, and Why? (24 pages, PDF), found that while 91.5 percent of survey respondents were aware of the existence of crowdfunding platforms, 46 percent said they gave to charity but not to crowdfunding campaigns. A quarter (25.3 percent) of respondents gave to both charity and crowdfunding efforts, while 6.4 percent gave only to crowdfunding campaigns.
Funded in part by Facebook, the report also found that crowdfunding donors, on average, gave less than traditional donors ($1,539 vs. $1,859), were younger (44.2 years vs. 49.9 years), were less likely to attend religious services regularly (32.3 percent vs. 43.2 percent), had slightly lower household incomes ($241,427 vs. $248,974), and were less likely to be married (54.5 percent vs. 61.2 percent). While the differences are not statistically significant, the report's authors note that the crowdfunding donor pool is slightly more diverse, with Asian-American, Black, and Latinx donors accounting for 2 percent, 12 percent, and 17 percent of all crowdfunding donors, compared with 1.2 percent, 10.9 percent, and 15.7 percent of traditional donors.
According to the report, donors to crowdfunding campaigns gave an average of $189 in 2019, and of the total raised through crowdfunding, 41.6 percent went to a family member or close friend (52.5 percent), followed by charitable organizations (22.1 percent) and a friend of a friend or acquaintance (10.8 percent). The study also found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, 35.4 percent of all donors reported giving to strangers, and that 47.2 percent of donors who typically contribute to crowdfunding campaigns gave to strangers. In addition, the report found that those who donate via crowdfunding platforms and social media are more likely than traditional donors to give to social justice causes (27.7 percent and 28.6 percent vs. 18.2 percent).
"This new research shows that crowdfunding attracts a more diverse and younger donor pool," said Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs and Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. "As a philanthropic giving vehicle, crowdfunding is another tool in a donor's toolkit, and the study shows that it complements rather than replaces their charitable giving. The growth of online giving signals a promising future for crowdfunding."