Delivering Impact for Social Good



Social Purpose Organisations (SPOs) and Social Marketing are at the forefront of a societal shift in our collective desire to live better, to cause less damage to our planet, and to leave fewer people behind in our quest for progress.  Consumers expect organisations to play a bigger role in addressing climate change, economic inequality, workforce reskilling and racial injustice as distrust on government continue to rise (Edelman Trust, 2022). The growing momentum behind an ambition to live in a sustainable way is underpinned by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Innovative and creative thinking, and disruptive practices, are necessary to deliver impact for social good (Rundle-Thiele et al., 2019, Kim et al., 2020, Gabler et al., 2020). As a result, the role of social purpose organisations and social marketing has grown more profoundly in addressing these issues. 

SPOs are defined as organisations whose primary aim is achieving measurable social and environmental impact through behaviour change outcomes. Typologies of SPO include social enterprises that generate profits via their business (Farmer et al., 2016), charities and other nonprofit organisations. In order to ‘do good’ in a way that is organisationally-sustainable, SPOs need to attract resources through engaging stakeholder groups to be successful. These dual identities of social purpose and sustainable organisational growth often can lead to conflicting demands from both internal and external stakeholders. Hence, the attempt to balance both commercial and social missions is fundamentally crucial for a successful SPO (Battilana and Lee, 2014; Lee and Bourne, 2017). 

The Special Issue will make a unique contribution to theory through an interdisciplinary approach to understand how innovation and creative thinking is positively disrupting the practice of SPOs and social marketing in order to strengthen impact for social good. Despite the increasing professionalism in the nonprofit sector, and subsequent adopting of commercial ‘business’ ways of working including customer engagement and behaviour change programmes, there is a strong argument that their mission-driven purpose means SPOs need to be understood through a distinctive focus. Likewise, social marketing programmes often bring together local communities with researchers and stakeholders, such as national and local governments, to think differently about social issues and make substantive change. This Special Issue endeavours to understand the processes involved, evidence the impact achieved, and capture exemplar case studies in order to share best practice. In doing so, it adopts a marketing as practice lens (Foltean, 2019).

The SI will develop an impactful contribution to practice through showcasing Impact Case Studies: the stories and evidence of positive impact for societal good through innovative organisational behaviour. Impact papers are explicitly designed to facilitate knowledge exchange about impact, not the underlying conceptualization and methodologies of the research, but the challenge of designing, tracking and demonstrating impact, that is, the change itself. This new kind of article aims to foster mutual development of social purpose organisation and social marketing; celebrate and make explicit the impact of research. As such, it complements existing types of articles that might be published on the research itself. In offering this new type of article, we encourage co-authorship with non-academic authors, specifically partners on projects, to capture the voice of stakeholders vital to impact.

List of topic areas:

This includes, but is not limited to, new methods to engage stakeholders such as donors and volunteers, reframing the cause with the public, developing alternative service delivery channels, and creative collaboration including through campaigns and movements. Equally important is developing an impactful contribution to practice through showcasing the stories of positive impact for societal good through innovative organisational behaviour.
Indicative themes include, but is not limited to:

  •  new methods to engage practice stakeholders such as donors and volunteers,
  •  reframing the cause with the public,
  •  developing alternative service delivery channels, 
  • creative collaboration including through campaigns and movements. 
  • innovation through  enhancing social value creation 
  • social movements including through activism
  • engaging a new generation in a tailored and relevant way to build a stronger sense of civic responsibility 
  • strengthening loyalty through mission-based brand communities 
  • rebranding to reflect new strategic positioning and engage stakeholder groups
  • new models of collaboration vs. competition 
  • considering prosocial behaviour, civic duty and community-mindedness post-Covid19 
  • innovative business models that redefine our understanding of where and how social purpose can originate 
  • practitioner case studies of innovative and disruptive practice for social good
  • rethinking communications to better reach new audiences.

Guest Editors:

Dr. Sarah-Louise Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Oxford Brookes University, UK, Email: [email protected]

Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Founding Director of Social Marketing at Griffith University, Australia. Email:  s.rundle-[email protected]

Dr. Fran Hyde, Deputy Dean and Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Suffolk Business School, University of Suffolk, UK. Email: [email protected]

 Dr. Zoe Lee, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, UK. Email: [email protected]

Submissions Information:

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see:

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key deadlines:

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 31st of May, 2023