Nonprofit online responsiveness: An exploratory field experiment in China

Lin NIE, Wai-Fung LAM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


This article assesses sources of nonprofit responsiveness and identifies potential drivers for responsiveness, using an online field experiment involving philanthropic foundations in China (N = 3,254). Baseline requests were sent out to the foundations through emails and vignettes were applied to treatment groups by inserting different identity claims or prompts into the contents of the emails. Experimental results showed that, compared with the control group, potential donors were more likely to receive responses, claims concerning government ties or media backgrounds resulted in fewer responses, and citing legal obligations could increase the odds of receiving satisfactory responses. Interpreting the results with reference to stakeholder salience theory, we argue that potential donors are the most salient stakeholders to foundations. Donor requests and legal obligations are the most effective forces driving foundations’ responsiveness in China. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-388
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number2
Early online dateApr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


Nie, L., & Lam, W.-F. (2022). Nonprofit online responsiveness: An exploratory field experiment in China. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 51(2), 369-388. doi: 10.1177/08997640211007574


  • Responsiveness
  • Accountability
  • Stakeholder salience
  • Field experiment


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