Keeping Children Learning: Platform-Enabled Resilience During Crises
31 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2021 Last revised: 22 Feb 2023
Date Written: January 20, 2023
Global crises are inevitably accompanied by resource shortages, logistical and operational challenges. In this study, we examine how digital crowdfunding platforms can enable community and operational resilience, and help adjust to the sudden shifts in demand that accompany a global crisis. Specifically, we examine whether public schools, which suffered severe resource shortages and operational setbacks during the COVID-19 crisis, were able to generate critical support from online fundraising communities. Using a rich, granular dataset that we compile from multiple sources, we investigate how the nationwide closing of U.S. schools during the pandemic affected online donations to teachers on a leading crowdfunding platform. Results from a quasi-experimental analysis reveal the pivotal role that the crowdfund- ing platform played in facilitating community resilience during this turbulent period. We find that following the school closures, there was a significant increase in the overall community-mobilized contributions to support public education. We observe two shifts in donation patterns. First, donors swiftly adapted to renewed priorities and redistributed their resources favoring immediate needs around digital learning infrastructure. Second, donors channeled a greater proportion of their giving toward schools serving communities of lower socioeconomic status. Notably, we find that while institutional donors substantially increased their contributions, there was no significant change in the contribution of individual donors. We offer theoretical reasons for these findings. We also find evidence for the important role that platform design elements play in garnering public support for causes. Our work has important implications for platform designers, public school administrators, teachers, and donor communities.
Keywords: Non-Profit Operations, Digital Resilience, Crowdfunding, Online Platforms
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