Social Network Analysis of Nonprofits in Disaster Response: The Case of Twitter During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States

Xi Gong, Shuyang Peng, Yujian Lu, Shaohua Wang, Xiao Huang, Xinyue Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic has created complex problems that require organizations to collaborate within and across the sector line. Social media data can provide insights into how nonprofits interact for the pandemic response from both social network and geographical perspectives. This study innovatively investigated the connection and interaction patterns among 74 National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) nonprofits and three government agencies based on structural analyses and content analyses of their Twitter communications during the long-term global COVID-19 pandemic. The daily tweeting quantities of all nonprofits were generally consistent with the pandemic severity in the United States before July 2020 and remained stable afterward. Nonprofits’ tweets can reflect their purposes of sharing information, building communities, and taking actions for disaster response. Government agencies played leadership roles in providing COVID-19 guidelines and information. Human services, International and Foreign Affairs, and Public and Societal Benefit nonprofits, especially American Red Cross played central roles in the nonprofit communication network. Possible explanations include the following: (1) Geographically, connections and interactions among nonprofits are more likely to happen within the same city or in neighboring states. (2) Both mission homophily and heterophily contribute to connections and interactions among nonprofits, depending on their subsectors. The findings not only help the public better understand how nonprofits are collaboratively fighting the pandemic, but also provide guidance for nonprofits to plan for better interactions and communications in future disaster response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2029-2054
Number of pages26
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law


  • COVID-19
  • Twitter
  • disaster response
  • nonprofits
  • spatial social network


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