I was honoured to be Mary Lims supervisor and I don’t mind be very proud of that.


By Mary Pui-Ling Lim

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Business

Unitec Institute of Technology


The not-for-profit (NFP) sector began to adopt for-profit marketing processes and strategies in the 1960s-70s, in order to gain public affection and a major share of the donor dollar in an increasingly crowded environment. A literature review showed that not all for-profit marketing approaches were applicable, and identified a literature and knowledge gap in NFP marketing in a New Zealand context. To address this gap, this research used the grounded theory approach and purposeful theoretical sampling to explore the nature of NFP marketing. A total of 20 in-depth interviews were conducted with marketing, communication, and fundraising executives from 18 NFP organisations in New Zealand. The findings revealed that NFP marketing was neither exclusively transactional nor relational, but of a pluralistic approach.

The NFPs’ cause is the raison d’etreof their existence. Therefore, their core mission centres around service delivery to the beneficiaries; and maintaining a valuable relationship with their funders is crucial to achieving their mission. The service-dominant and relational nature of NFP marketing therefore conceptualised SD Logic as a logical framework for NFP marketing. Value co-creation, a key SD Logic construct, was evident in all the intra- and inter-key stakeholder relationships that NFPs have with their multiple publics, especially the funders. This added strength to foundational premise where customers are the co-creators of value. Evidence from the data richly supported the view which posits that service is the fundamental basis of exchange, as NFPs were producers of services, to create social value for communities in need. Therefore, as service-centred organisations, NFPs are inherently customer oriented and relational . The relational approach in NFP marketing therefore,is orientated around the cause; and the transactional approach is orientated around the brand, when the brand personality is experienced through the exchange of skills, knowledge, time, and other operant resources.

This exploratory study has also resulted in the emergence of a new concept in NFP marketing which merits further research: NFP share of market is defined by its share of resources, and therefore, NFP marketing is resources marketing.

‘Not what we get but what we give, measures the worth of the life we live.’ (Author Unknown.)

In 1967, the founder of the local missionary hospital in a little town in Malaysia penned these words in my book. She has since passed on, but the words have remained. This research is testimony to the fact that it is not in the getting, but very much in the giving – of our time, money, skills and knowledge – that we help to co-create social value for society, especially for those communities in need.


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