Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Brooke McKeever


This dissertation explores the ways in which stewardship motivates nonprofit stakeholder attitudes, behaviors and loyalty. Using an online survey of stakeholders from eight local United Ways in one southern state (N=660), this research has three major focuses. First, it seeks to validate a scale to measure perceptions of the relationship cultivation strategies of stewardship. Second, it investigates group differences between nonprofit stakeholder types (donor only versus both donor and volunteer). Third, the study explores opportunities to extend existing relationship management models beyond assessments of perceived relationship quality to include desirable behavioral outcomes.

Findings offer a new conceptualization of stewardship comprised of five factors: relationship nurturing, responsibility, reporting, reciprocity appreciation and reciprocity recognition. Multiple analyses show how these factors differently influence relationship evaluations of trust commitment and satisfaction. Further, analyses of group differences by stakeholder type indicate that the effectiveness of stewardship strategies varies by audience. A new theoretical model was advanced to extend the organization-public relationship model beyond measures of trust, commitment and satisfaction, to measures of loyalty and behavioral intentions. Implications for nonprofit public relations theory and practice are discussed and avenues for future research are proposed.