Managing Word-of-Mouth: A Nonprofit Case Study

Martin Williams*, Francis Buttle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Word-of-mouth (WOM) is an important influence on the opinions of donors and their donation behaviors. Against a background of more professional donor relationship management, we investigate about how, if at all, nonprofits (NP) manage WOM. We report an in-depth case study of a single NP. We find that there is widespread appreciation that WOM influences NP performance indirectly through its impact on donor acquisition, donor loyalty, and organizational reputation. Whilst the organization employs networking and WOM practices, it stresses the reduction of negative WOM (NWOM) rather than the promotion of positive WOM (PWOM). Crisis management dominates the NP's WOM-related thinking. We find that PWOM emanates from many organizational influences including donor satisfaction, the welfare service itself, networking practices, external suppliers, alliances, its officers and communication practices including both advertising and public relations. We apply a new model, the eight pillars of WOM, to our analysis of WOM management in the case organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-308
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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