Nonprofit Organizations as Sponsors: An Investigation of Positive Word of Mouth and Donation Choice as a Result of Sponsorship

Thomas M. Hickman

This study surveyed fans of a college football team and found that nonprofit organizations are positioned to benefit from sponsorship through increased positive word of mouth and donations by fans of the team. Specifically, fan identification, favorability toward the sponsorship, and perception of quality of the nonprofit organization were all predictive of higher levels of positive word of mouth. Cumulatively, these variables led to respondents selecting the sponsoring nonprofit versus a similar non-sponsoring nonprofit in the donation choice phase of the study. This article also examines the negative consequences of sponsorship by investigating the role of a perception of cynicism toward sponsorship. It is shown that as cynicism toward sponsorship increases, positive word of mouth and choosing the nonprofit as the donation recipient both decrease. Overall, encouraging results are shown for nonprofits serving as sponsors as measured by positive word of mouth and donation choice. Implications of the findings and future research agendas are discussed.