Cause Marketing for Nonprofits

Partner For Purpose, Passion And Profits

Cause Marketing for Nonprofits

Cause Marketing for Nonprofits

When you think of cause marketing, think transformation. Think the new nonprofit and corporate relationship – partners working for common purpose with passion to achieve profits for both.

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Cause marketing is the new corporate-nonprofit engagement, a nonprofit mission-based fundraising and marketing tool, and a growing corporate marketing and social responsibility discipline. Today, almost $2 billion is spent on cause marketing in North American and it provides over $6 billion of marketing support for causes annually. And it’s growing – over 65% in the past three years!

The New Corporate Marketing and Social Responsibility Field

Cause marketing is the new corporate marketing and social responsibility tool. Corporate experts predict a cause component might, in the near future, be considered an integral part of any responsible marketing campaign. Nonprofit leaders predict cause marketing will grow as the way companies support the community.

The New Nonprofit Mission-based Fundraising and Marketing Discipline

Cause marketing helps raise revenue, create awareness and achieve important mission goals. To participate nonprofits must be entrepreneurial, marketing oriented with the internal culture, capacity and structure in place.Either way, the impact is clear; nonprofits must learn how to present themselves to corporations in such a way that they are more marketing oriented and more supportable. Companies must understand the benefits of engaging in this form of community support for the company, products, brands, and internal culture.

Cause Marketing: Partner for Purpose, Passion and Profits

Written to help nonprofits and for profits recognize the opportunities provided by cause marketing partnerships, Cause Marketing for Nonprofits: Partner for Purpose, Passion and Profits is brimming with numerous real-world case studies. It provides professionals with the principles, tools, stories, and exercises to take them step-by-step through cause marketing.Whether to you’re new to the field or a season veteran, Cause Marketing for Nonprofits provides the insights and tools needed to successfully partner for purpose, passion, and profits.

1. In a nutshell, what is cause marketing?

Cause marketing is a mutually beneficial relationship that aligns the credibility, brand and assets of a non-profit cause and the public’s desire to support it, with the power of a company’s marketing, brand and people. It creates business and social value while publicly communicating in the workplace and marketplace a company’s values and important messages about the cause.In cause marketing the emphasis is on an exchange of value, how a cause relationship can help companies achieve marketing and business goals. It self interest combined with altruism, marketing combined with corporate citizenship, mission-based fundraising combined with nonprofit marketing.

2. What are the benefits of cause marketing to corporations? To nonprofits?

Cause marketing is becoming the public face of corporate citizenship and community involvement. Market research has proven that cause-marketing relationships give a company a competitive advantage. For corporations it showcases in the workplace and marketplace what they stand for. The benefits: the best people want to work for you and customers, suppliers, retailers and the community want to do business with you.Done right for nonprofit causes, cause marketing creates social value and bring value beyond just dollars. They can advance the nonprofits mission by generating additional revenue, disseminating information, reaching a whole new audience with key messages, and bringing valuable corporate marketing expertise. Campaigns that are longer term can also help to change behavior and attitudes.

3. Your book gives a thorough overview of the growth of cause marketing, beginning with its launch by American Express in the early 1980s. Can you discuss some of the reasons for the rapid growth of cause marketing?

In many ways, cause marketing’s time has clearly come. Companies realize they can no longer be anonymous benefactors or disengaged citizens. The community from employees to consumers to stakeholders is demanding that companies play an active role in building community and demonstrate what they stand for. It is no longer good enough to be good citizens; companies need to be seen to be doing good. Finally, shareholders are demanding value be created and values adhered to; cause marketing initiatives provide a clear return on all of these requirements.

For nonprofits, cause marketing is the new and growing mission-based marketing and fundraising tool. One of the latest evolutionary trends that is driving cause marketing is nonprofit organizations creating program platforms that position them to achieve bottom-line results and strengthen corporate partnership opportunities. To break through the clutter, the same effort to develop integrated reputation management and focused strategies undertaken by companies is happening in the nonprofit sector.

4. What do nonprofit leaders need to know in order to launch a successful cause marketing campaign? Conversely, what do corporate leaders need to know?

Cause marketing requires a nonprofit organization to be marketing oriented and outwardly focused, looking at how best to present their organization and cause to an external audience. With the growth in the field and increasing sophistication, nonprofits must be businesslike and strategic in their approach. Think, plan and do. Follow my seven C’s framework of “Getting it Right.” Causes must be disciplined in their planning and internal organizing; be proactive in seeking collaborative partners, look to combine assets, and create value; and execute on what you promise, communicate what you’re doing. Celebrate achievements, evaluate, and continually learn as the program moves forward.

For companies, cause marketing involves the same approach – expect from a corporate perspective. Programs must be well thought out, planned and executed. My seven C’s framework works equally well. Think about the cause that you want to support, look for a collaborative partner, combine assets, create value, execute, communicate and celebrate.

5. What’s the first step nonprofit leaders should undertake when starting a cause marketing campaign?

First, they must start by proactively developing an internal cause-marketing orientation. This includes building a program that aligns with organizational goals and needs and catalogues assets that could be brought to a cause-marketing arrangement. Assets must be viewed from the corporate perspective— how can they be used to benefit the nonprofit and the potential corporate partner, what does the nonprofit have to offer to a corporate cause relationship?

Determine the focus for the program remembering that big simple idea needs are easiest to understand and therefore sell. With this information in hand, a nonprofit can begin the process of creating a list of potential corporations that could align with their goals, mission, and assets. Finally, nonprofits serious about building cause-marketing programs must have an internal structure that is committed and ready to collaborate. To participate in cause relationships, nonprofits must have senior leadership buy-in, an enterprising culture, adequate resources, and processes and procedures in place to move any potential program through the system efficiently and in a timely fashion.

6. As you state in your book, there are literally hundreds of thousands of nonprofits in the United States from which corporations seeking a cause marketing relationship can choose. What does a nonprofit need to do in order to become the “cause of choice?”

To stand out in the crowded and competitive philanthropic marketplace corporations want partners who can align with their goals, have the capacity to undertake cause programs, bring tangible assets, and are ready to collaborate. Whether nonprofits are actively seeking cause-marketing relations or reacting to approaches, they must be innovative, flexible, and most importantly marketing and results oriented.

7. You cite the collaboration between the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike as an example of a successful cause marketing campaign. What factors make this program so successful?

Every successful cause marketing campaign has four key factors for success: Partners, Purpose, Passion and Profits. The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike is a great example of these principles.

The first was the partnership that existed between the Foundation and Nike. They had a long term relationship that was aligned and built on shared goals, mutual trust and respect. The second, purpose – they put together a solid but simple idea – a yellow bracelet when worn showed what customers stood for and resulted in a donation to the foundation.

A simple big idea can have massive impact and it’s easier to communicate, link to corporate objectives and products, explain to staff, and then execute. The next was passion – which comes from the people involved! When Nike committed to selling five million bracelets to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation in the spring of 2004, the task seemed daunting, if not impossible.

The solution: the VP responsible for the program started by getting Nike staff excited and passionate about the project. Nike President Phil Knight sent a message to employees encouraging them to participate. “When we focus our collective passion,” he stated “our potential knows no limits.”

Staff stepped forward – some who had had cancer, others connected with family and friends that had experienced the ravages of cancer. They pledged purchases and the movement that was the cause-marketing sensation of 2004 was begun. Find a powerful way to communicate the emotional content of a cause-marketing initiative with staff, and big things can happen. Finally, both Nike and Lance Armstrong and his team got behind the cause campaign and drove its “profitable” success. Everyone sold meant a donation to the Foundation and goodwill and employee and customer pride for Nike.

8. Can you describe a cause marketing program that was not so successful? What factors made it unsuccessful?

Happily there haven’t been too many unsuccessful campaigns. But one that stands out is the 1997 American Medical Association and Sunbeam campaign. That year they announced a co-branded program for a line of home health-care products. The five-year exclusive agreement with Sunbeam Corporation exchanged royalty payments for product sales using the AMA name and logo. Criticism came from newspapers, consumer health organizations, and the AMA’s own membership. The AMA had not tested the products, leaving its credibility at risk. The AMA Board of Trustees had also not endorsed the cause-marketing arrangement and contract, and in the end they voted to withdraw from the deal. The partnership was terminated before it started. As a result, Sunbeam sued the AMA, which paid $9.9 million to settle in July 1998.

9. At the end of your book, you discuss “The Seven Golden Rules of Cause Marketing.” If you had to choose just one to convey to nonprofit leaders, which one would it be and why?

I would say Principle #1: Put First Things First and Be True to Mission and Values is the most important. One of the greatest risks of a cause-marketing program is the temptation to wander from one’s mission and values to take advantage of an opportunity. It can be a challenge for nonprofit organizations to say no.

A cause-marketing program must be aligned with the nonprofit’s mission and values and allow them to achieve their main purpose.When you have your first meeting, talk about your mission and goals for the program. If they are excited about meeting their goals, and excited about helping you achieve your mission objectives, then consider a partnership.

A cause-marketing arrangement must fit mission and values and aid in advancing the organization’s programs and goals. That’s not to say it can’t be fun, relevant and appealing to consumers, but you must stick with your core values of who you are. Credibility and being trusted is a nonprofits core asset and is critical to its overall success.

10. Similarly, you list the “Seven Deadly Sins” of cause marketing. Which is the deadliest and why?

The previous AMA/Sunbeam example covers most of the deadly sins, but if I were to chose one it would be Sin #1 Not Being Mutually Beneficial with a Program That Is Too One Sided, Too Self-Serving, or Too Commercial. Cause marketing is a mutually beneficial relationship that combines corporate self-interest with altruism.

Every relationship has to provide value to both partners, not be a one-sided transaction. Corporate cause marketers have business objectives and targets they must achieve annually and must be concerned about their bottom line. Nonprofit organizations have to be equally concerned about achieving their goals. The programs must help achieve mission-based goals, generate revenue, and receive other benefits that bring value to the nonprofit organization. Both sides must look for a balanced program that provides value to each.

When you’re considering a cause relationship, can you answer yes to all of these: partners, purpose, passion, profits? If not, then the relationship may be too one sided, and in the end it won’t work. Be prepared to say no.

Book Reviews:

Jocelyne Daw has done a meaningful service to cause marketers with her book Cause Marketing: Partner for Purpose, Passion and Profits. She brings real-world experience, workable suggestions and a sharp pencil to a topic that has, too often in my view, been drawn with a broad brush.”-

“Jocelyn Daw, a recognized authority who has been involved in cause marketing since 1988, draws on her considerable experience to outline the many ways nonprofits can partner with the business community for mutual benefit. One of the most useful parts of the book was chapter 12, which includes the Seven Golden Rules and Seven Deadly Sins of cause marketing. Among most important caveats are making sure to pick the right partners and that the relationship is not one sided or too commercial.”

- Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Vol. 37, No 1

“Every year, I see newspaper articles in my local weekly business paper about how because of the tougher economic conditions; nonprofit organizations are starting to see the value of co-marketing efforts, both with other nonprofits and for-profit businesses. Yet, even the newspaper articles do not make such a clear case for the fundraising benefits that such collaboration provides. Jocelyne does a fantastic job laying out not only the benefits, but also techniques that have succeeded in getting organizations from point A to point B MUCH FASTER because they collaborated with others.It’s a must read for any organization that not only wants to succeed faster, but also wants clear cut techniques and ideas that have worked for others, and they could implement themselves easily.”- Ilia Nossov

“Over the years I have developed and played matchmaker for cause-branding efforts, and, through this, I have seen non-profits and for-profits move closer together. All were relationships that we were fortunate enough to help along, and the results have been gratifying in every case. Want those kind of results for your own organization? Read on. The journey will be rewarding in unimagined ways.” - Carol Cone Cone On Purpose