A study of non-profit organisations in cause-related marketing

Catherine Liston-Heyes (Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)
Gordon Liu (Bournemouth University, Poole, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Publication date: 11 November 2013



Cause-related marketing (CRM) involves firms working in partnership with non-profit organizations (NPOs). While CRM offers a range of potential benefits to NPOs, some managers are reluctant to partake in these ventures. The purpose of this paper is to uncover their concerns and highlight what can be done to improve their experience of CRM.


This paper uses semi-structured interviews with 160 UK NPO managers and a stakeholder theory framework to document their experience of the CRM process and investigate what they can do to improve it.


It identifies three types of concerns relating to issues of: organizational identity, alliance risks, and the prioritization of NPO stakeholders. The analyses also uncover a number of strategies used by NPO managers to safeguard their organisations.

Research limitations/implications

By focusing not only on the measurable outcomes of CRM but also on its processes, the authors provide a more thorough analysis of CRM and its impact on NPOs.

Practical implications

By emphasizing potential NPO stakeholder dissent, the authors' study provides a list of pitfalls that may help NPO managers select more suitable corporate partners, come better prepared to the negotiation table, improve the selection and training of negotiators, and generally manage the CRM process more efficiently.


Studies of CRM have been predominantly from the corporate perspective. Consequently, the understanding of CRM from an NPO viewpoint remains limited both theoretically and empirically. The authors' paper complements this literature by investigating NPO managers' concerns about the process of CRM.



Liston-Heyes, C. and Liu, G. (2013), "A study of non-profit organisations in cause-related marketing", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 47 No. 11/12, pp. 1954-1974. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-03-2012-0142

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