Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Hugh Sloan

Relational Format



The nonprofit (NPO) sector has seen immense growth in recent years. With this growth has come an increased need for any particular nonprofit to compete and differentiate itself from the vast number of other nonprofits also looking for clients, volunteers, and donors. Unfortunately, nonprofits often lack the resources needed to develop and execute a successful marketing campaign. The emergence of controlled viral marketing offers a number of possibilities for these NPOs looking to spread awareness and increase involvement. The purpose of this research was to explore common themes among previous viral marketing campaigns and identify factors that are likely to lead to virality. Both qualitative and quantitative research was conducted in the form of content analyses and a survey collected via convenience sample to 132 participants. The results of the analyses indicated that several factors are at work when nonprofit marketing material goes viral. The primary factor identified was the level of emotion that the content stimulated among viewers. Other factors included the credibility of the source, social relevance to the viewer, and the ease of distribution. NPOs would stand with much to gain if they began to work toward developing compelling online content with the potential to go viral.

Accessibility Status

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Included in

Marketing Commons



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