Communicating Social Responsibility Efforts examines how individuals perceive CSR by nonprofits.
- To what extent does the use of a CSR message strategy by a nonprofit impact its reputation?
- Does the public perceive CSR messages from nonprofits different in terms of credibility based on the media channel used to disseminate those messages?
- Does the public perceive CSR messages from nonprofits different in terms of believability based on the media channel used to disseminate those messages?
- Are there general trends in relation to the channels used for CSR messaging that could positively impact nonprofit organizations’ use of this strategy?
To test how adults evaluate the CSR messages from nonprofits in terms of the source credibility and message believability, the study uses an experimental design to present CSR messaging in five different communication channels:
- independent news story
- executive letter
- website article
- blog entry
- Facebook post
In this study, independent news stories were perceived to be the most credible and believable, yet Facebook and blog posts had the greatest impact on reputation.
How to Use the Study’s Results
For-profit organizations should regard this study as useful for research-design brainstorming purposes, rather than assume that the implications are directly applicable. While the results of the study are internally valid, the findings wouldn’t necessarily apply to your situation because the audience, messaging and circumstances are unlikely to match yours.
According to the study’s authors, the researchers “designed a 2 x 5 experiment that was carried out at three San Francisco Bay Area festivals (agricultural, arts/cultural, and sexual health). Festivals were chosen where nonprofits had an active role in education and awareness at the festival through having a booth or table present each day at the festival. Prior to the festivals, stimuli were created around hypothetical organizations relevant to the festivals that discussed the organizations’ overall CSR efforts. The messaging was created so that it addressed the organizations’ commitment to environmental efforts, diversity, and being a community partner.”
At each festival, 750 individuals were targeted and response rates varied (agricultural = 24%, n = 180; arts/cultural =38%, n = 285; sexual health = 15%, n = 113). Of the 578 participants, 353 (61.1%) were female while 225 were male (38.9%).
Instructions to access the full report of: Communicating Social Responsibility Efforts
The Moral Compass of Public Relations
Richard D Waters, Holly K Ott