Have you tried cause marketing?
What is cause marketing?
Cause marketing – to use the blandest terms possible – is most simply defined as a for-profit business and non-profit business working together for mutually beneficial goals.
Ugh. Let’s try that one again:
Cause marketing is businesses and non-profits helping each other out. The business gets marketing/public relations value. The non-profit gets marketing/fundraising value.
It can be an incredible opportunity for both businesses and non-profits, if you do it right.
Let’s look at some examples.
Back in the 1980’s American Express donated a percentage of every sale (and extra donations for every new customer card opened) to The Restoration Fund – a group working to restore the Statue of Liberty.
More recently Maker’s Mark partnered with an organization to get warm coats to people who needed them.
Want more? Look around you while you’re out about your day. You’re sure to see examples of cause marketing.
The video store donating a portion of all new release rentals to cancer research? That’s cause marketing.
The Chiropractor giving a donation to the local homeless shelter for each new client that makes an appointment? Again, cause marketing.
Those box tops you’re collecting for your kid’s school? Cause marketing.
Once you start to watch for it, you see examples of cause marketing partnerships everywhere. If so many companies and NPOs are doing it, there must be some reason, right?
What can it do for you?
Cause marketing will do two things for a non-profit:
- Raise money
- Raise awareness
In many cases, money is donated to a non-profit by the corporation. This usually takes the form of “$X are donated to <your non-profit> for every purchase of Y or Z.”
The awareness boost comes from the non-profit being included in all the marketing/advertising the company does to promote the joint campaign.
For-profit businesses have a much bigger budget for promotion. Cause marketing allows your non-profit to benefit from that budget.
Let’s go back to the American Express example.
According to The Balance, “the Restoration Fund raised over $1.7 million, and American Express card use rose 27 percent. New card applications increased 45 percent over the previous year.”
Is every example that incredible? Of course not. But it’s proof that cause marketing works – when it’s done right.
Let’s break it down into who got what:
The Restoration Fund raised $1.7 million. That’s a lot of money.
And American Express? What did they get out of it?
Use of their card rose 27%. And there were 45% more applications for new cards, compared with the previous year!
The bottom line here is that both the non-profit and the business benefited from the cause marketing relationship.
It’s entirely possible for you to forge a mutually beneficial partnership with a company as well.
How do you do it?
First you have to find a company willing to partner with you.
I won’t lie to you. This is probably the hardest part. You’ll approach companies who will say no. That’s ok.
All you need is for the right one to say yes.
A large part of it is in how you present the partnership. If you call them up asking for donations and pleading for help, they’re gonna hesitate.
On the other hand, if you present it as a way for them to bring in new business, or improve their image with their customers, they’ll be more likely to listen to you.
What’s the first step you can take right now?
One good beginning step you can take is to make a list of likely partners to approach.
Are there any companies that your donors are likely to buy from? That right there is a great match.
Ask yourself what you have to offer a company. What kind of promotion can you give? Do you do large fundraising events? How many people attend? What kind of media coverage do your events receive? Will your cause marketing partner be featured in that coverage?
Look at your donors, volunteers and other supporters demographically. Who are they? Are there companies that would like to reach them? Approach those companies.
Consumers like buying from socially conscious companies, and most companies know it. They’re likely on the lookout for some way to make their image more consumer friendly.
You’ve got the glowing reputation. (If you’re an animal shelter, you’ve got the sad puppies and kittens...)
Companies place value on being associated with people like you. (Who doesn’t want to be with the people saving puppies and kittens?)
So to start with, take stock of what you have to offer:
- Donor, volunteer, other supporter demographics
- Promotional opportunities
- Community visibility
- A popular cause
- Your reputation
Make a list of companies that could benefit from partnering with you.
Then approach them.
Sure, some will say no. But you only need one to say yes.