Predictors of social media users’ intention to donate online towards international NGOs in the fake news era

Predictors of social media users’ intention to donate online towards international NGOs in the fake news era

Theory of Planned Behaviour and the intention to donate online. Conceptual clarificationsResearch on the literature examined the variables influencing people’s intentions to make online donations. Reddick and Ponomariov (2012) suggest that greater levels of associational participation (i.e., pre-existing involvement) enhance the probability of donating online to different causes or charities, being a more important factor than the availability of technology in explaining donating behaviour. Moreover, a significant proportion of non-profit members are already aware of the possibility of contributions to NGOs via the Internet and express their willingness to donate online in the future (Treiblmaier and Pollach, 2006). Liu et al. (2022) reveal that extrinsic factors, such as project information, retweeter information, and social media information, have a substantial influence on individuals’ overall propensity to donate to medical crowdfunding projects. They argue that individual attitudes and perceived behavioural control positively influence the intention to donate (Liu et al., 2022). Similarly, Song and Kim’s (2020) study supports the idea that individual attitudes toward NGOs influence the intention to donate. Treiblmaier and Pollach (2006) examine the outside influences that might impact people’s overall attitudes towards online donations, suggesting that extrinsic factors (charitable projects, non-profit organizations, the Internet) have a significant effect on people’s attitudes towards online donations, and consequently have a major impact on their intention to donate. Other studies examine the impact of charitable organizations on people’s online donation intentions (Reddick and Ponomariov, 2012) or individual attitudes toward non-profit organizations to explain their intention to donate (Song and Kim, 2020). Positive attitudes related to perceived behavioural control, moral norms, and prior behaviour can predict donors’ intention to donate (Knowles et al., 2012). Other studies track the relationship between antecedent factors and behavioural intention to make charitable contributions online (Rodriguez-Ricardo et al., 2018; Wang et al., 2019), showing that a person’s perceived identification with a crowdfunding network and its innovative nature exert a beneficial impact on their intention to donate.To predict donation behaviour, research has consistently focused on motivational theories (Florenthal and Awad, 2021). The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) assumes that predictions about an individual’s behaviour can best be made by establishing their behavioural intention (Sura et al., 2017; Kim and Park, 2023). TPB has previously been considered as a theoretical framework in various research studies based on non-profit organizations (Knowles et al., 2012; Mittelman and Rojas-Mendez, 2018), demonstrating its validity and value. The prior application of TPB in non-profit research in both non-Western and Western countries (Mittelman and Rojas-Mendez, 2018) has had a favourable influence on using this motivational theory to predict donor behaviour (Florenthal and Awad, 2021).According to TPB, intention is the main element that determines behaviour (Ajzen, 1991). While people act according to their intentions and perceptions of self-control over their behaviour, intention, in turn, is influenced by attitude (i.e., positive or negative evaluations of performing a behaviour), social pressure and societal expectations to perform or not perform a behaviour (subjective norms), and the ease or difficulty of performing a behaviour (perceived behavioural control) (Millán et al., 2023). Subjective norms have been extensively studied for donation intentions and found to be relevant (Baudier et al., 2023). These norms consist of two components (Mittelman and Rojas-Mendez, 2018); normative beliefs, i.e., the judgements and perceptions of people close to an individual towards a behaviour, and motivation which describes whether relevant people in the social environment close to the individual approve or disapprove of a behaviour. Two different types of factors can determine the control of perceived behaviour: internal control factors (relating to the individual’s abilities and skills) and external control factors, such as the environment, external barriers and reliance on others (Mittelman and Rojas-Mendez, 2018). The more favourable and stronger the attitude towards a behaviour, the higher the intention to perform that behaviour (Sura et al., 2017).By applying TPB, the models proposed by Treiblmaier and Pollach (2006) and Sura et al. (2017) to examine the effect of external factors on social media users’ attitudes towards online donation intentions to international NGOs are extended. This study aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of online intention donation behaviour by testing how external factors—in this case, the sharing of fake news on social media—affect the intention to donate online to NGOs. The generality and significance of TPB for analysing and understanding online behavioural intention led us to extend the theoretical framework of the research to examine people’s attitudes and intentions towards online donations to international NGOs as a result of a priori exposure to fake news about NGOs shared on social media.Hypothesis and conceptual model developmentCompared to real news, fake news spreads faster, has a longer lifespan, and has a greater impact on the much wider audience it is likely to reach (Vafeiadis and Xiao, 2021). Through social networks, exchanging information between users has become much easier (Pelet et al., 2017), but sharing more and more news with family and friends increases the possibility of disseminating false and unverified content (Wei et al., 2023). Apuke and Omar (2021) note the existence of fake news sharing behaviour among social network users, while Tandoc and Kim (2023) find that one cause of the spread of fake news on social networks is the sheer amount of information that appears there, and the fact that users prefer to access news from online social media platforms (Talwar et al., 2019) compared with traditional media channels (Wei et al., 2023). Previous research (Ajina et al., 2023) reveals that social media is responsible for the extensive diffusion of inaccurate news. The dissemination of bogus content has not bypassed any aspect of people’s lives (Apuke and Omar, 2021), and as already mentioned, NGOs have not been spared either (Jahng, 2021). Campaigns that take place digitally, through misinformation and digital attacks, and that affect NGOs in fulfilling their mission and damage community relations, are hard to manage and can be difficult and time-consuming to recover from (Al-Achkar, 2021). As a result, it is assumed that:H1: Social media usage has a positive influence on users’ intention to share fake news about international non-governmental organizations.Social networks and platforms are undoubtedly the most popular communication channel in the world. Social media usage focuses on the variety of activities that people can undertake using social media and is closely tied to the intentions of social media usage (Lau, 2017). Through social media, NGOs can increase their visibility, showcase their causes, interact more easily with stakeholders, volunteers, and donors (Bilgin and Kethüda, 2022), and promote their brands (Wut et al., 2022). Social media platforms support NGOs and charity campaigns, promoting “e-philanthropy” (Asante et al., 2021, p. 3). This concept refers to the altruism that takes place in cyberspace, where charities operate to support the welfare of others and for a better society (Alam and Islam, 2021). Social media is a financially convenient channel for NGOs in their quest to reach as many potential donors as possible (Wut et al., 2022).Brand associations and reputation are very important for NGOs because potential donors can distinguish a brand and thus decide on their preference regarding donation intention (Rios Romero et al., 2023). By building a recognizable brand, NGOs can have a major effect on their funders (Yoga and Bumi, 2020), and attract new donors and volunteers (Vafeiadis et al., 2020). Consequently, some international NGOs are using one-way, informative communication on social media to protect their brand (Comfort and Hester, 2019). Social media users can spread positive or negative messages about NGOs based on their reputation. Previous seminal works in fake news literature indicate that the relationship between brands and fake news is complicated (Obadă, 2019) since brands can be sources or victims of fake news (Berthon et al., 2018). If a brand with a good reputation is a source of fake news, this could lead to increased sharing behaviour among social media users. Sometimes, the sharing of fake news will have negative consequences not only on commercial brands but also on the reputation of non-profit organizations and NGOs, and on the willingness to donate (Sarstedt and Schloderer, 2010). Therefore, the following hypothesis can be inferred:H2: Brand reputation of international non-governmental organizations exerts a positive influence on sharing fake news about them via social media.Fake news content that is shared on social media affects the perception of those who encounter it and can have a great impact on social and public health issues (Ardèvol-Abreu et al., 2020). Fake news shared on social media and the whole phenomenon of online misinformation has become a very complex problem for organizations, even for non-profit ones, causing reputational damage and altering their relationships with key stakeholders (Jahng, 2021). Moreover, fake campaigns that are conducted on social media not only mislead those who meet them (Potthast et al., 2017) but have serious repercussions on the brand image of the targeted organizations (Kumar et al., 2023). Consequently, the following hypothesis are proposed:H3: Sharing fake news about international non-governmental organizations on social media positively influences users’ views on the perceived risks of online donations.H4: Sharing fake news about international non-governmental organizations on social media has a positive influence on users’ attitude towards donating online.H5: Sharing fake news about international non-governmental organizations on social media exerts a positive influence on users’ intention to donate online.To achieve their specific missions, NGOs rely on charitable donations from individuals and institutions. Often, however, donors face uncertainty about the value and effectiveness of the services provided by NGOs. It can be difficult for funders and other stakeholders to determine whether their contributions matter and whether NGOs are using them appropriately (Stötzer et al., 2023). For this reason, it is mandatory for NGOs to strengthen their links with donors, making it easier for them to identify with the organization’s social mission and values (Keller et al., 2010) and encourage the intention to donate (Wymer et al., 2021). If the goals advocated by an NGO overlap with a donor’s own values, then they are more likely to consider donating (Rios Romero et al., 2023). Wymer et al. (2021) pointed out that if a donor fails to identify with the causes an NGO supports, even if they are fundamental to society, he or she will be more inclined not to donate. Therefore, it is hypothesized that:H6: Perceived risks of online donations to international non-governmental organizations positively influence users’ intention to donate online.Attitudes towards online donations depend on trust in the NGO and not on the perception of technology, especially when a person has had previous positive experiences relating to donations (Kim and Park, 2023). Strong ties and emotional attitudes towards a non-profit organization can cause a much higher desire for donor involvement (Florenthal and Awad, 2021). Reddick and Ponomariov (2012) suggest that NGOs themselves play a fundamental role in forecasting individuals’ intention to donate online, stating that a stronger association of people with the organization will increase the chance of a donation. Literature (Mittelman and Rojas-Mendez, 2018; Millán et al., 2023) finds that attitudes toward online charity donations impact the intention or willingness to make a charitable contribution. da Silva et al. (2020) identify the significant effect of attitude in generating the intention to donate and perform a charitable act. As a result, the following hypotheses can be proposed:H7: Attitude towards donating online to international non-governmental organizations has a positive influence on users’ views on the perceived risks of online donations.H8: Attitude towards donating online to international non-governmental organizations exerts a positive influence on users’ intention to donate online.H9: Attitude towards donating online to international non-governmental organizations has a positive influence on the brand image of these organizations.Brand image is an essential element for NGOs to position themselves favourably in the minds of donors (Michel and Rieunier, 2012). This positive brand image helps charities to be unique, different, and preferred by donors (Bilgin and Kethüda, 2022). By building a brand image that stands out, NGOs can resonate with potential funders about the relevant causes they represent (Yoga and Bumi, 2020). Considering the increase in the number of NGOs and the competition for donations, do Paço et al. (2014) point out that their brand image was a very important factor in differentiation. The authors suggest that marketing strategies are vital for non-profit organizations in the fundraising process and in attracting new donors. Thus, by knowing the intention of social media users to donate through social media platforms, NGOs can create social media marketing strategies to drive more online donations (Lui and Zainuldin, 2021). NGOs are constantly concerned with developing and improving their communication strategies and relationships with donors. Successful or popular social media platforms have enabled changes in the way donations are collected and made it easier for donors to participate in the act of charitable giving (Park and Rhee, 2019), impacting entrepreneurial self-efficacy in terms of perceived barriers, intentions, and behaviours (Duong, 2023). Hence, the following hypothesis can be assumed:H10: The brand image of international non-governmental organizations positively influences users’ intention to donate online.Based on the previous arguments, a theoretical model (see Fig. 1) is proposed, highlighting the relationships between the constructs.Fig. 1Conceptual model of the research.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-024-02900-1

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