Small charities and pro bono marketing assistance : a relationship analysis

Bennett, Roger and Kottasz, Rita (2018) Small charities and pro bono marketing assistance : a relationship analysis. In: 17th International Congress on Public and Nonprofit Marketing (IAPNM): Vanilla, shock and entertainment : marketing in the era of emotions; 06 - 07 Sep 2018, Bournemouth, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The characteristics of relationships between large charities and their advertising agencies or marketing consultancies have been extensively researched. A gap in knowledge exists however concerning the manners whereby very small (micro) charities that cannot afford to purchase agency or consultancy services instead secure and interact with outsiders who are willing to provide pro bono assistance with an organisation’s marketing. This is an unfortunate lacuna in the nonprofit marketing literature considering that the great majority of fundraising charities are very small. The individuals who provide pro bono assistance might be charity trustees with marketing backgrounds, friends and relatives, vendors, major donors, or personnel from advertising agencies or marketing consultancies. This paper presents the results of a qualitative study of the features of the relationships between the heads of a sample of 65 micro fundraising charities (typically comprising a single manager plus one or two full or part time employees or volunteers) and the unpaid external people or organisations that helped them with their marketing. The 65 charity heads and also 44 of the individuals who furnished unpaid external support were interviewed within a most-similar case framework using a narrative story-telling method whereby the participants were asked to suggest ‘chapter headings’ for an imaginary book describing their relationship with the other party. Stories arising from the interviews focused on issues relating to resource provision, outsiders’ motivations, and charity heads’ marketing and organisational competence. The interviewees were questioned directly about objective setting, appraisal of outcomes, the exercise of due diligence, and other relevant elements of relationships. Three main relationship categories became evident: symbiotic, dependent, and outsider-dominant.

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