Date of Graduation

Spring 5-20-2016

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sports Management


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Dan Rascher

Second Advisor

Dr. Nola Agha

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Goldman


Literature suggests that, “symbolic associations refer to the abstract cognitions that translate the values of the organization, personality traits associated with the brand and even emotions” (Michaelidou, Micevski, & Cadogan, 2015, p. 1658). Here, in order to measure the value of clear and powerful symbolic brand associations for nonprofits as they seek corporate support, commercial managers evaluated the symbolic brand associations of five nonprofit organizations devoted to youth development through sport. This type of commercial-nonprofit linkage warranted analysis due to the association benefits offered by both sport and youth. Professionals in this sector, standard literature from both commercial and nonprofit sectors, and current professional resources give us a background on the intricacies of the partnership marketplace as it exists today, offering potential reasons for each sector to engage in mutual partnership.

This research adds to the literature by helping us determine the role that symbolic brand associations have in this intersection and by helping nonprofit managers understand the value of such associations in a process full of brief psychological judgment. Usefulness, efficiency, dynamism, affect, reliability, ethicality, and typicality were the measured associations. Affect (compassionate, favorable, friendly) and reliability (responsible, reputable, sincere) of the nonprofit were the two associations that correlated most strongly with corporate engagement (money, time, resources, partnership, leveraging). This correlation underscores the value of clearly articulated symbolic brand associations. Strategies from literature and examples from successful corporate development teams in the nonprofit sector begin to help us understand how symbolic associations are used to create relevance for nonprofits that can use these associations to find connections and grow their corporate alliances.