This paper aims to explore the use of an appeal, belonging and commitment social marketing intervention to rescue a failing corporate “charity of the year” exercise that involved a mental disability charity. It describes the improvements experienced consequent to the introduction of volunteer “charity ambassadors” (CAs) appointed to champion the charity’s cause.Design/methodology/approachThe study revolved around company employees’ responses to an open-ended question concerning their attitudes towards people with mental disabilities. A semi-automated qualitative research technique (structural topic modelling [STM]) was used to analyse the replies both pre- and post-intervention. Regression analyses were undertaken to explain whether employees’ replies to the question fell in specific categories.FindingsThe intervention was successful. Employees’ attitudes regarding mentally impaired people shifted substantially away from fear and towards feelings of benevolence and compassion. Employees’ financial donations to the charity increased significantly consequent to the intervention. Levels of benevolence and compassion depended significantly on participants’ prior exposure to people with mental disabilities, gender and degree of involvement in activities associated with the intervention.Research limitations/implicationsStakeholders other than employees were not sampled. Open-ended responses to a single question can oversimplify complex issues.Practical implicationsOutcomes to the research demonstrate how CAs can induce positive attitudes and behaviour towards an “unpopular cause”.Originality/valueThe results highlight some of the problems attached to corporate sponsorship of unpopular causes. A relatively recently developed open-ended qualitative research technique, STM, was used to examine employees’ attitudes. Classifications of findings emerged from the data and did not depend on a predetermined coding scheme.
Journal of Social Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 10, 2019
Keywords: Fundraising; Compassion; Stereotyping; Mental disability; Charity ambassadors; Structural topic model; Charity of the year schemes; Unpopular causes
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