Exploring individual predictors of variation in public awareness of expressive and instrumental nonprofit brands

Madinah F. Hamidullah, Jung Ah Yun, Lindsey M. McDougle, Jongmin Shon, Hyuk Yang, Ashley Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Expressive and instrumental functions provide a way to classify activities that take place in the nonprofit sector. These functions also provide a way to better understand individual's philanthropic involvement with certain types of nonprofit organizations. Despite the usefulness of these classifications, only a few studies have explored demographic, social, and ideological differences in individuals' philanthropic involvement along expressive and instrumental dimensions; and, no studies have explored differences in public awareness of nonprofits along these dimensions. Such awareness, though, could likely be an important precursor to an individual's philanthropic involvement. Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore whether variables known to be associated with variation in philanthropic involvement are also associated with variation in awareness of, what we categorize as, expressive and instrumental nonprofit brands. Using data from a survey of public awareness of, and attitudes toward, nonprofit organizations in San Diego County (n = 1002), our findings show that individuals are more aware of instrumental nonprofit brands than they are of expressive nonprofit brands. However, there are important individual differences to consider. We discuss the theoretical relevance of our findings and offer several practical recommendations for nonprofit administrators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1710
JournalJournal of Philanthropy and Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Marketing
  • Strategy and Management
  • Economics and Econometrics


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