Nonprofits concerned about the impact third-party alliances have on their consumer image will take comfort in the findings of a research study conducted by the Arthritis Foundation.
All six types of alliance activity studied increased the percentage of consumers with a positive perception of the foundation. Mary Norman, group vice president of strategic marketing alliances, said
We were surprised by the extent to which our alliances improved overall perceptions. There was a suspicion that an alliance could damage perceptions of your organization, but the study showed quite the opposite.
The six types of activities studied were:
“Arthritis Today” magazine advertising
Proud Sponsor designation
Co-branded Educational Program
In fact, they study showed that corporate-funded activities (sponsorship promotion and various forms of advertising) are the primary drivers of AF awareness, which does not have an advertising budget, Norman said.
Project/Event Sponsorship (e.g., the Arthritis Walk sponsored by Aleve) was found to be the most likely to strengthen perceptions of the AF as a leader in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis. Forty-two percent of arthritis sufferers reported that project/event sponsorships led them to have a more positive view of AF.
Corporate alliance activity had a negative impact on consumer perception of AF among only a tiny group of consumers — about 4 to 5% on most survey questions.
The study was conducted to respond to concerns among AF stakeholders about the impact of corporate alliances. Its findings have spread confidence within the organization that that these arrangements work to AF’s advantage, Norman said.
Although some nonprofits organizations would consider such research highly proprietary, AF has decided to publicize it broadly with the nonprofit community. “We’d like to help bring about a greater sharing of information between organizations,” said Norman.