Digital Media Use by Nonprofit Organizations: Relationships, Causations, and Comparisons




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This mixed-method dissertation investigates some of the least explored aspects of digital media use by nonprofit organizations with three empirical and content-analysis chapters. Applying the dialogic communication and resource dependency theories, Chapter 2 examines the social media activity of faith-based organizations affiliated with six major religious groups in the U.S. The findings indicate that the organizations’ size, age, and financial and human resources have minimal impact on online communication activity. However, public grants and volunteers were found to be significantly negatively correlated. In addition, mixed results for the relationship between organizational factors and the nature of and one-way and two-way communication in messaging were observed. Chapter 3, a survey-based study, offers an in-depth analysis of the influence of transformational leadership attitudes towards online fundraising. Significant relationships were found between transformational leaders’ intention of using social media and online fundraising for organizational purposes and allocating resources for these purposes. The fourth chapter compares the social media communication strategy of public and nonprofit organizations. This was done through advancing Lovejoy and Saxton’s (2012) “Hierarchy of Engagement” framework from a stakeholders theory’s perspective. An in-depth content analysis of 700 tweets by public housing authorities (PHAs) and nonprofits working solely for the housing cause indicated a similar trend of sharing “Information,” “Action,” and “Community” messages. However, the second layer of analysis through subcategorization revealed significant variance like messaging. In addition, both organizations' genre was found to be extensively using third-party social media engagement tools and tweeting from cellphone devices. These studies fill significant gaps in the literature and are also very timely and important as nonprofits are likely to become increasingly reliant on digital media to fulfill their mission and service delivery. In this respect, the response to complications arising from the COVID-19 pandemic has been a preview of developments to come.



Political Science, Public Administration