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A typology of conspicuous donation on Facebook

Elaine Wallace (Whitaker Institute, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland)
Isabel Buil (Marketing Department, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 5 February 2021

Issue publication date: 20 July 2021




This study aims to present a typology of Facebook followers of charities, drawing on theories of value co-creation, impression management and conspicuous donation behavior.


Data from 234 students based in an Irish University and 296 adults in the USA were subjected to cluster analysis.


Four segments were identified, common to both samples. Quiet donors are less likely to engage with a charity on Facebook, yet they may donate to the charity. They follow a charity if it offers intrinsic meaning, and they quietly donate money. Facebook expressives mention charities on Facebook to impress others, but have low intention to donate. Following the charity on Facebook is a means to virtue signal, but it helps to spread word of mouth. Friendly donors are active on social media and engage with charities on Facebook when there is personal meaning, and they will donate. Following the charity offers them intrinsic value, and their Facebook mentions promote the charity online. Finally, dirty altruists are motivated by a desire to help, but also to impress others. They will donate, but they will ensure to highlight their good deed on Facebook, to virtue signal.


The study contributes to the literature investigating individuals’ motivations to connect with charities through social media and suggests value co-created by types of charity followers on Facebook.



This work was supported by the Government of Spain and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (project ECO2017-82103-P); the Gobierno de Aragón (GENERES Group S-54_20R); and the Research Incentivisation Scheme at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, National University of Ireland Galway.


Wallace, E. and Buil, I. (2021), "A typology of conspicuous donation on Facebook", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 535-552.



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