||The raison d’être for non-profit organizations (NPO) is to promote its ideas in hoping to change the society. NPOs pursue the goals that benefit the public, and communicate and market its missions through various channels, thus can be considered as a branch of ‘social marketing.’ However, as a member of the mundane world, however supreme its ideals may be, from the perspective of symbolic interactionism and Irving Goffman’s dramaturgy, NPOs inevitably face the same reality like any other organizations – the gap between ideas and practices, the contrast between front-stage and back-stage, and the seemingly irrelevance but virtually two sides of one coin between seriousness and ludicrousness. |
This study uses two small NPOs as the context for research and the field for
participant observation. The research adopts ethnographically-oriented participant observation as its methodology approach. Taking ‘social marketing’ as a contrast, it uses dramaturgy, social representation theory, and symbolic interactionism to sneak into the process of human interaction under the sacred umbrella of NPOs’ missions.
The results indicate the following points:
1.During the process of idea practicing, ideals have to compromise with practices, and a balance between the two has to be met;
2.Although the participants of NPOs’ activities appear to be supportive to NPOs, they may actually be attracted by the activities itself (not the ‘mission’), or even worse – they do not really care about what NPOs intend to do;
3.It appears that volunteers come forward to help marketing activities because they identify with the NPOs; however, very often they are being attracted by their own interest and/or ‘guan-xi’;
4.Full-time workers are responsible for daily operation of the NPOs, and therefore have more knowledge about the organization. Although they are on behalf of their organizations and thus their ideals, they still need to practically make their livings while also look for opportunities for self-fulfilling.
5.Under the guidance of their missions, NPOs also face challenge to survive, and have to interact and communicate with the public under the framework of daily life.