Understanding the intention to donate online in the Chinese context: The influence of norms and trust



Due to the advancement of information and communication technologies, online donations have become unprecedentedly convenient, making money received from individual online donations an important form of revenue for many charitable organizations in China. However, factors contributing to people’s online donation intentions, in turn impacting donating behavior, have been under-examined. The current study aims to understand factors influencing online donation intention in the Chinese cultural context by combining constructs from the extended Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB; including the original TPB constructs and moral norm) and trust-related constructs (i.e., trust in charity organizations and trust in technology). The moderation effect of past donation behavior on the relationship between trust and donation intention was also explored. A total of 721 Chinese participants completed the online survey. SPSS was used to perform hierarchical multiple regressions. The results showed that attitude, perceived behavioral control, moral norm, and subjective norm were all positively related to online donation intention. Moral norm was found to be a stronger predictor than subjective norm, raising the amount of explained variance of the original TPB model. Trust in charity organizations was found to positively predict donation intention while trust in technology was not. The results also revealed that past donation behavior moderated the effect of trust in charity organizations on donation intention. This study not only adds to the body of knowledge on charitable donation in the online context by incorporating two trust-related constructs into the extended TPB model, but also highlights the different roles moral and subjective norms play in predicting people’s prosocial behavior in the context of Chinese culture.

online donation, theory of planned behavior, moral norm, subjective norm, trust, past donation behavior, Chinese online philanthropy
Author biographies

Wu Li

School of Media and Communication, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

Wu Li, Ph.D., is a professor at the School of Media and Communication of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. His research interests cover new media and media psychology. He recently investigates research topics on psychological effects and social impacts of social media use.

Yuanyi Mao

Department of Media and Communication, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

Yuanyi Mao, M.A., is a doctoral student in media and communication at City University of Hong Kong, China. His research interests include human-computer interaction and moral psychology, especially the psychological processes and consequences related to the interaction with emerging technologies.

Cong Liu

School of Media and Communication, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

Cong Liu, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the School of Media and Communication of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. Her research interest lies in quantitative studies in computer-mediated communication, media psychology, and health communication. This is the corresponding author for the article (lcong26@sjtu.edu.cn).


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Additional information

First submission received:
August 8, 2020

Revisions received:
August 17, 2021
November 20, 2021

Accepted for publication:
January 3, 2022

Editor in charge:
Michel Walrave







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