Münzen auf Smartphone mit Schriftzug Donate
Techa Tungateja / istock

Giving during the pandemic

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected pro-sociality? WZB researchers have examined this question with respect to donation behavior, conducting a real-donation online experiment in Great Britain. More than 4200 people from 149 local areas participated.

Two scenarios can be imagined. Willingness to help others may decline through economic crisis and greater insecurity. Vice versa, helpfulness may rise in such a situation, through an increase in empathy and solidarity.

With their donation experiment, Maja Adena and Julian Harke can now show that the second effect predominates. For instance, referencing COVID-19 in a fundraising appeal increased willingness to donate. Likewise, the researchers establish that willingness to donate is higher in local areas more severely affected by the pandemic.

These results emphasize the significance of solidarity and empathy in crises. They are also in line with the observation that the amount of donations in Germany has increased considerably over the last 24 months.


Maja Adena und Julian Harke
David Ausserhofer

Maja Adena works as a research associate in the Economics of Change department. 

Julian Harke also conducts research in the department.