Competitive environment, market orientation, and the use of relational approaches to the marketing of charity beneficiary services

Roger Bennett (Centre for Research in Corporate and Marketing Communication, London Metropolitan University, London, UK)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This empirical investigation aims to examine the approaches to “beneficiary marketing” adopted by a sample of charities in sectors such as homelessness, eating disorders, domestic violence, addiction, etc., and the possible antecedents and consequences of particular marketing styles.


A mail questionnaire was sent to the heads of 618 charities or their regional offices in the UK's 20 largest cities, resulting in 172 replies. It was hypothesised that a charity's competitive market situation influenced its level of market orientation and hence its adoption of relationship marketing vis‐à‐vis beneficiaries. The impacts on marketing behaviour of an organisation's “strategic intent” and the existence of innately competitive instincts among its senior managers were explored. Possible connections between, on the one hand, market orientation and relationship marketing in relation to beneficiaries and, on the other, the same tendencies in respect of a charity's financial supporters were examined.


The results suggested that certain competitive factors known to drive conduct in the commercial domain also affected the behaviour of many of the sample charities. Organisations in the sample that were market‐orientated in relation to fundraising were also market‐orientated when they marketed their services to beneficiaries. Equally, charities that practised relationship marketing vis‐à‐vis donors also applied relationship marketing to their beneficiary marketing activities.


The paper adds value to pre‐existing literature concerning the alleged existence of a significant link between market orientation and performance. Additionally the research discovered a powerful connection between relationship marketing and charity client satisfaction, implying the need for charity managers to develop effective beneficiary relationship‐marketing strategy.



Bennett, R. (2005), "Competitive environment, market orientation, and the use of relational approaches to the marketing of charity beneficiary services", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 19 No. 7, pp. 453-469.

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