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Tweets for tots: using Twitter to promote a charity and its supporters

Alena Soboleva (School of Business, Western Sydney University, Penrith, Australia)
Suzan Burton (School of Business, Western Sydney University, Penrith, Australia)
Kate Daellenbach (School of Marketing and International Business, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)
Debra Z. Basil (Faculty of Management, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Canada)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 11 September 2017




Twitter provides an ideal channel for a non-profit organisation (NPO) to add value to its corporate partners by providing the ability to send tweets to its own network of followers. This research aims to examine the extent to which one NPO used Twitter for this purpose and discuss the implications.


The research examined tweets sent by a large US-based charitable organisation, Toys for Tots (T4T), across two Christmas periods. All tweets that mentioned or retweeted T4T’s corporate partners were analysed.


The findings show surprisingly limited mentions of partners by T4T, with many never mentioned, and markedly fewer mentions of partners in the second period. Separate analysis of partner tweets retweeted by T4T revealed that none was modified to add value for T4T and/or for the partner, and many were unrelated to T4T, raising a risk of alienating T4T’s followers.

Research limitations/implications

Only one NPO was examined, and the study focused on Twitter, with limited analysis of T4T’s Facebook posts. However, the relatively low, decreasing and largely indirect promotion of partners in T4T’s tweets suggests a lack of strategic use of Twitter by T4T.

Practical implications

Coupled with other research, the results show the need for this and other NPOs to more effectively use Twitter to reinforce partnerships with corporate partners.


The results demonstrate the failure of a major US charity to use Twitter to add value for its corporate partners. Even in the unlikely event that this NPO is an isolated case, the results show the need for NPOs and their corporate partners to work together to provide reciprocal benefits.



Soboleva, A., Burton, S., Daellenbach, K. and Basil, D.Z. (2017), "Tweets for tots: using Twitter to promote a charity and its supporters", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 515-523.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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