Cause-related marketing (CRM) is an effective marketing tool for promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and the bulk of campaigns are designed and delivered through collaborative ‘social’ alliances with non-profit organisations (NPOs). The authors seek to uncover some of the factors that explain how firms and NPOs choose their potential partners in the development of their CRM strategy. The rationales for the observed patterns are investigated through semi-structured interviews conducted with managers employed by the UK-based firms and NPOs. The authors find that each party has specific preferences when choosing the particular CRM implementation strategies in different situations, as well as different initial positions when negotiating the formation of the social alliance. This article contributes to our understanding of the CRM implementation strategies and both the company’s and the NPO’s behaviours toward each of the strategies.