Does the CSR Message Matter? Untangling the Relationship Between Corporate–Nonprofit Partnerships, Created Fit Messages, and Activist Evaluations

Reyhaneh Maktoufi, Amy O’Connor, Michelle Shumate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study unpacks the complex relationship between corporate–nonprofit partnerships, corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication, and stakeholder evaluations of fit. We move beyond the fundamental question of whether partner fit matters to questions about what types of messages matter, under what conditions, and to whom. We conducted an online experiment (N = 966) to test created fit messages’ ability to influence stakeholder perceptions of corporate–nonprofit partnership fit. Grounded in the symbiotic sustainability model, we find that created fit messaging results in stakeholders having more favorable evaluations of corporate–nonprofit partnership fit. However, we also identify differences in the effectiveness of created fit messaging across potential partnerships. In addition, we find, beyond message type and level of partner congruity, the degree of CSR activism influences stakeholders’ responses to created fit messaging in counterintuitive ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-212
Number of pages25
JournalManagement Communication Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020



  • activists
  • corporate social responsibility
  • corporate–nonprofit partnerships
  • created fit messages

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