Is Cause Marketing Right for Your Nonprofit?

I find myself increasingly intrigued by cause marketing. It’s marketing, right? And getting bigger all the time. A recent IEG study finds that cause marketing spending totaled $1.34 billion in 2006 — an increase of 7.5% — and is expected to reach $1.44 billion this year.

Cause marketing seems to be a strategy used by the known few — like the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation/Avon and Red/Gap partnerships. But how does your nonprofit get a piece of it?

For answers, I turned to Joe Waters, one of the best cause marketers (and bloggers) I know, and Director of Cause & Event Marketing at Boston Medical Center. Read on for Joe’s guidance on capturing cause marketing dollars for your organization.

Take a look for more of Joe’s insights in his two blogs — Selfish Giving and The Savvy Giver.

And don’t check out these recent GA posts on the topic:

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Nancy Schwartz on February 6, 2007 in Cause Marketing, Nonprofit Communications | 5 comments
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  • how far we have come since that seminal book, Filthy Rich and Other Non-Profit Fantasies. I wish there was a social network for not-for-profits where tips were tagged so that people involved could find ideas faster that mesh with their situation. The most exciting (well almost the best part) of crafting campaigns or watching ways non-profits work is to see how unlikely the allies can be where they share that one core value that is at the heart of their cause.
    There’s such rich dividends, in our right/wrong culture, to collaborating with people much different than you, staying focussed on that sweet spot of common interests and caring
    – Kare Anderson, author SmartPartnering

  • Matthew Monberg

    Most cause marketing is national in scope. Seems difficult that a local organization or smaller nonprofit could get much out of cause marketing. I think it’s a question of audience size. If you’ve got a huge list and can guarantee your sponsor a ton of impressions, click-throughs, etc., than you’ve got a shot. Otherwise, you don’t have much at the table. Thoughts?

  • Jocelyne Daw

    You might be interested in learning more about how local nonprofits can benefit from cause marketing. I published a book on Cause Marketing for Nonprofits: Partner for Purpose, Passion and Profits (John Wiley, 2006) and I look at how many local organizations are taking advantage of this growing trend. It’s in how you frame your cause and how what that can do for a local business. With the growth in cause marketing, there is no question local businesses are taking note and recognizing the power cause marketing can have for both the business and the cause.
    One of the best examples is the New York Food Bank. While you might think, that’s New York, the competition is fierce. Through a clever rebranding and rethinking of their assets and cause they developed a cause marketing platform “Bank-to-Bank” that helped them partner with banks and financial institutions – a group that normally didn’t have food banks as an area of support.
    Even the big national programs, local organizations can learn from. The American Heart Association’s rethinking their brand and assets led them to focusing on four core audiences – women, obesity and children, strokes and African American and general inactivity. They developed branded programs for each one – the best known is Go Red for Women. Again this gave the organization a framework to develop cause marketing partnerships with a whole range of national and local businesses who had women as a target audience.
    Build your cause – think marketing not need, prepare internally, and then a cause can proactively approach potential partners and present win-win ideas.
    Cause marketing can be a powerful tool for local organizations – it’s all in how it’s presented and then actively pursued.

  • We just got back from the Cause Marketing Forum and it was a great resource for both nonprofits and corporations. For those of you that have nonprofits you may be interested in the external link program we have through http://www.nonprofitshoppingmall.com which allows you to raise money through your support base using our technology. Check us out!

  • John Haydon

    Nancy,
    I’m sure you’ve read the 2007 Cone Cause Evolution Survey that addresses consumer attitudes about cause marketing. The Cone folks argue that it is no longer enough to “slap a colored ribbon on a product as part of a superficial promotion”. Long-term, substantive support of social issues is now the Key Brand Differentiator and Purchase Driver for consumers.
    This study is crucial material for non-profit folks to use as they dialogue with corporate sponsors about a more substantive relationship. The survey can be found here:
    http://www.coneinc.com/news/request.php?id=1091
    John Haydon
    http://www.corporatedollar.org

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