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Exploring the role the brand plays in the choice of charity by UK volunteers

Mitchell, S.-L. (2016) Exploring the role the brand plays in the choice of charity by UK volunteers. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Charities need to understand why volunteers choose one brand rather than another in order to attract more volunteers to their organisation. There has been considerable academic interest in understanding why people volunteer generally. However, this research explores the more specific question of why a volunteer chooses one charity brand rather than another. It builds on previous conceptualisations of volunteering as a consumption decision. Seen through the lens of the individual volunteer, it considers the under-researched area of the decision-making process. The research adopts an interpretivist epistemology and subjectivist ontology. Qualitative data was collected through depth interviews and analysed using both Means-End Chain (MEC) and Framework Analysis methodology. The primary contribution of the research is to theory: understanding the role of brand in the volunteer decision-making process. It identifies two roles for brand. The first is as a specific reason for choice, an ‘attribute’ of the decision. Through MEC, volunteering for a well-known brand connects directly through to a sense of self, both self-respect but also social recognition by others. All four components of the symbolic consumption construct are found in the data: volunteers choose a well-known brand to say something about themselves. The brand brings credibility and reassurance, it reduces the risk and enables the volunteer to meet their need to make a difference and achieve a sense of accomplishment. The second closely related role for brand is within the process of making the volunteering decision. Volunteers built up knowledge about the charity brands from a variety of brand touchpoints, over time. At the point of decision-making that brand knowledge and engagement becomes relevant, enabling some to make an automatic choice despite the significant level of commitment being made. The research identifies four types of decision-making behaviour. The research also makes secondary contributions to MEC methodology and to the non-profit context. It concludes within practical implications for management practice and a rich agenda for future research.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Clark, M. and Stride, H.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Marketing and Reputation
ID Code:65726
Date on Title Page:2015


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