Social Entrepreneurs' Crowdfunding Campaigns

Crowdfunding for Social Entrepreneurs: How Social Entrepreneurs Gain Support through Verbal and Visual Communication



Social enterprises are playing an increasingly important role in addressing global challenges. However, raising financial resources for their projects can be intimidating, often hindered by the reluctance of traditional financial institutions. This is where crowdfunding platforms come in as a promising alternative. Here, the success of a crowdfunding campaign crucially depends on the ability to convince potential supporters of the social mission and to excite them for the project. Previous research has shown that successful communication strategies reduce uncertainty when the new enterprise convincingly presents itself. But how exactly social enterprises mobilize crowd support still needs to be explored. The research project "A Mixed-Methods Inquiry into Social Entrepreneurs' Crowdfunding Campaigns: How do Social Entrepreneurs Persuade Backers Through Verbal and Visual Communication?" led by Pascal Dey and Christian Hopp, addresses precisely this question.

Course of action

The researchers assume that the success of crowdfunding campaigns by social entrepreneurs depends on more than just the strategic dissemination of information, as previous studies have suggested. Instead, they focus on the significant role of a skillful combination of verbal (e.g., the description of product information and financial forecasts) and visual forms of communication (e.g., videos, images, demonstration objects). This holistic view aims to understand the mechanisms behind the process of a social entrepreneurial crowdfunding campaign. The project uses a mixed-methods approach that includes three empirical studies. It examines how verbal and visual communication are used in real-world situations, how they are inseparably linked, and how this impacts crowdfunding campaigns' outcomes. The first qualitative study sheds light on the timing of different social entrepreneurial campaigns. It shows how various forms of communication are combined to convince potential supporters. In the subsequent quantitative study, a comprehensive dataset is used to analyze which themes prevail on crowdfunding platforms and to what extent specific topics predict supporters' willingness to fund a project. Finally, the findings from the second study will be tested and theoretically refined in an experimental design.


This research project provides the first holistic insight into the micro-processes of crowdfunding campaigns. It shows that campaign success depends on how social entrepreneurs use verbal and visual communication and how they interact with potential supporters.

Looking ahead

In addition to its scientific relevance, the project offers practical guidance for social entrepreneurs considering crowdfunding to finance their projects and for consultants supporting nascent social enterprises in their resource strategy. Pascal Dey, Christian Hopp, Sebastian Gurtner, Maria Riniker, Matthias Rüdiger, Halyna Kravchenkova, and Iryna Chernysh thus provide impulses for more effective financing of social enterprises and their social mission.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 1: No poverty
  • 10: Reduced inequalities
  • 11: Sustainable cities and communities