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Understanding approaches to social partnerships - investigating target audience reactions and non-profit managers’ business practice: a mixed-methods study

ABSTRACT If social partnerships can lead to favourable outcomes for not-for-profit organisations (NPOs), what steps are managers taking to achieve such outcomes? We address this question by conducting a mixed-methods study in a professional sports social partnership context in Australia. First, a survey with 4,193 sport team fans – a key target audience for NPOs was conducted to understand the impact of contextual factors (i.e. NPO reputation and perceived fit) on the consumer behaviour process, including donation, volunteer, and advocacy intentions for NPOs involved in a social partnership. Following the confirmation of favourable NPO outcomes, interviews with 11 NPO managers were conducted to explore the business practice inputs of their social partnerships. Interviews showed social partnerships were characterised by a power imbalance in favour of the sports organisation leading to a lack of co-creation of value. Further, despite an expressed intention to formalise the partnerships, formality waned as the partnership moved through the different partnership stages. Results across the two studies demonstrate the need for a more deliberate and strategic approach to social partnerships. Theoretically, we build on the limited work addressing the NPO perspective of social partnerships by adopting a dual stakeholder perspective.

Open Access