eco Survey: Help rather than hate – 38.4 per cent of Germans donate via social media

  • Information (43.2 per cent), entertainment (40.8 per cent) as well as networking and maintaining contacts (38.9 per cent) are among the main motives for using social media
  • More than one in five (22.2 per cent) seek exchange in social media groups
  • 38.4 per cent have already participated in fundraising campaigns via social media platforms

Social media has become an integral part of our everyday lives. 50 per cent of Germans over the age of 14 are regularly active on social media.1 Yet, at the same time, negative aspects such as hate speech or disinformation are dominating the debate around social media. At first glance, it’s difficult to return to the original idea of social media as a means of connecting with others and with communities. But 38.9 per cent use social networks to stay in touch with friends, family and acquaintances and to make new contacts. More than one in five are active in social media groups and seek exchange with others via the platforms. Solidarity is also shown by the willingness to donate: 38.4 per cent have already participated in fundraising campaigns via social media. This is the finding of a survey conducted by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, which took place at the end of November 2022 among 2,500 social media users.*

“The pandemic times have impressively demonstrated the potential that social media platforms can still unfold when it comes to social interaction. Whether in the course of the war of aggression on Ukraine, the flood disaster or in times of social distancing: people connected, supported and coordinated offers of help via social media and digital neighbourhood services,” says Oliver Süme, Chair of the Board, eco Association. The power of networking via social media and the triggering of solidarity-based action is also exemplified, for example, by social movements such as #FridaysforFuture, #StandwithUkraine or #IranRevolution, which raise public awareness of social problems, contribute to the mobilisation of civil society for democratic and social principles, and promote the exchange of ideas about which values and guiding principles are important within a society.

At the same time, it is important to empower people to recognise and ward off fake news, propaganda and manipulation on the Internet. “This requires a society-wide approach that also includes the promotion of digital media literacy, from young children to older people. Those who can reliably assess sources online are able to identify fake news and are unlikely to contribute to its spread,” Süme says. For over 25 years, the eco Association has been successfully engaged in the fight against online illegal content online via the eco Complaints Office, to which citizens can report suspected illegal content. Lawyers check the content and, if necessary, initiate further measures according to the “notice-and-takedown principle” – in cooperation with Internet providers and social media providers as well as law enforcement agencies. On the strength of this approach, the reporting of illegal content also contributes to its being significantly cut back upon.

However, the responsibility cannot and should not be imposed solely on the technology companies. “It requires in-depth legal knowledge to assess whether a statement is covered by the freedom of expression enshrined in the Basic Law or whether it already falls into the area of criminal liability or a factor which is harmful to young people,” said Süme. This legal assessment must not be the sole task of the companies; the final assessment must remain the task of the courts, especially in the case of complex facts or disputed legal views.

Which motives cause people to use social media?

According to the respondents, the main motives for using social media are information (43.2 per cent), entertainment (40.8 per cent) and networking and maintaining contacts (38.9 per cent). Social media plays its part in fulfilling the fundamental need for social interaction and in influencing social participation. In the process, the online contacts of the digital world sometimes extend into real life and create positive community experiences that strengthen the sense of unity – this occurs, for example, when social media platforms are used to organise neighbourhood help in community groups, to borrow tools or to form car pools. More than every fifth social media user (22.2 per cent) is active in groups on social media platforms.

Social media platforms as a vehicle for good causes

Whether a stem cell donor for cancer patients is sought via social media platforms, whether refugees need accommodation, or whether socio-economically disadvantaged people ask for donations in kind: Non-profit organisations or individuals are reaching millions of people and supporting their causes via the platforms. Almost a quarter of Germans have already shared a social media post from a non-profit organisation or person in need of help in their network. One in four social media users (25 per cent) have already assigned a reaction, for example a Like, for a charitable contribution. 17.6 per cent of those surveyed have commented on a corresponding post. In turn, 9.1 per cent post their own contributions that support good causes via their personal social media account.

Especially strong cohesion can also be seen in the willingness to donate among social media users. Almost 40 per cent of respondents have already participated in a fundraising campaign via social media.  By March 2021, over 5 billion US dollars in donations could be generated worldwide via Facebook and Instagram alone.2

Further information on the topic of “digitalisation and social cohesion” and what impact digital services can have on social interaction can be accessed on the website of the eco initiative: “#JOINTHESOLUTION: We are part of the solution – the Internet industry”.

* On behalf of eco, the market and opinion research institute Civey surveyed 2,500 people between 21 and 27 November 2022. The results are representative of people who use social media. The statistical error of the overall results is 3.6 per cent.
1 ARD/ZDF Onlinestudie 2022,
Digitalisation: eco Association Formulates Top 5 Digital Policy Tasks for the next German Federal Government