Helping or hurting : dismantling poverty stigma in nonprofit organizations’ strategic messaging.


Access rights

Worldwide access

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Charitable nonprofit organizations are often described by their supporters as noble, servant-hearted, caring, accommodating, and considerate, thanks in part to strategic messaging that underscores the organizations’ emotional connection and practical assistance to individuals in need. However, when viewed through a different lens, the very messages intended to be helpful and dignifying to clientele may portray a different meaning to the public. The current study examines the challenges and implications of charitable organizations’ strategic messaging about poverty. The following forms of qualitative data were collected from several Central Texas nonprofit organizations with poverty-centered missions. Interviews were conducted with nonprofit message crafters to understand the ways in which organizations strategically attempt to dismantle stigma surrounding poverty. Additionally, a content analysis of messages produced on organizational websites and social media was conducted. Findings of this study contribute to the scholarly literature on stigma communication and nonprofit legitimacy.



Nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit legitimacy. Strategic communication. Stigma. Poverty.