"Cause marketing,” or "cause-related marketing,” refers to a partnership between a business and a nonprofit organization. Typically, the arrangement is a mutually beneficial combination that ties a non-profit’s fundraising program into the marketing strategy of a business.
Chances are you can think of a few of these partnerships off the top of your head, and it’s not mystery why! The concept has proved lucrative over the years, growing from a $120 million industry in 1990 to over $2 billion in 2017! Cause marketing has successfully increased many a nonprofit’s funding and public profile, and it can for yours as well. — read on for ways your organization can implement this fundraising strategy into your next campaign.
You will have likely experienced a checkout for charity campaign at your local grocery store, in which customers are asked to donate their spare change to a partnered nonprofit for a particular cause.
According to Catalist’s 2018 Report
, 81% of consumers say they "like or don’t mind” being asked to give at checkout — probably because it’s a fairly low-key way to give — and 69% of consumers have done so in the last 12 months!
While this campaign normally asks for the donation gift to simply be added to the total bill of whatever else a customer is buying, The Salvation Army put a clever twist on the idea by using DipJars for their annual Red Kettle Campaign instead. Playing on the classic image of a tip jar, these little red units gave consumers the ability to donate with a quick swipe of their card. With a cute little jiggle and lights accompaning every donation, the Dipjars combined both convenience with novelty and were highly successful.. Check out The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign with DipJar below:
Wal-Mart’s Miracle Balloon campaign in collaboration with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals adds another fun twist to the typical point-of-purchase campaign, in which donors can write their names on paper balloons that the business then showcases on their walls. This hugely popular and effective campaign lets consumers see all the people who have already supported the cause, which can motivate them to join the crowd too.
2. Co-Branded Events
When a business and nonprofit band together for annual community events, magic can and will happen. These can often be 5K runs or walk-a-thons, such as CIBC’s hugely successful partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society for their annual Run For The Cure event in over 50 cities nationwide. Last year, Run For The Cure generated $16.2 million in a single day. Wow!
Another example of the effectiveness of co-branded events is Manulife’s Ride For Heart partnership with the Heart & Stroke Foundation. The largest charity cycling event in support of heart disease research draws crowds of over 15,000 each summer and a reported $6 million in funds this past year.
3. Matching Gifts
If consumers are going to buy a certain product anyway, why not make them feel good about their purchase by making it meaningful to someone besides just themselves? This is the thought process behind matching gift campaigns that incentivize a consumer to purchase a product that directly supports the cause of a partnered nonprofit.
Take for example Warby Parker’s Buy A Pair, Give A Pair campaign with VisionSpring, a nonprofit with the goal of providing affordable, quality eyeglasses to the billions worldwide who are in need. Not only does Warby Parker donate funds to VisionSpring to source a pair of glasses for every pair that consumers personally purchase, but they also train men and women in developing countries on how to perform eye exams in order to make eye care more affordable across the globe.
Coca-Cola’s partnership with the World Wildlife Fund follows a similar cause-related marketing strategy. Since the polar bear has been Coca-Cola’s unofficial mascot for a while now, it made perfect sense for them to team up with WWF to support the conservation of the animal and its at-risk polar habitat.
So, with every dollar people donated to World Wildlife Fund through the purchase of an Arctic Home campaign coke can, the beverage company matched their donation — to the tune of $2 million in 5 months. The campaign was so well-received by the public that the two organizations have continued to pair up year after year, raising millions annually for polar bear conservation efforts.
For your next fundraising effort, consider teaming up with a for-profit business with cause-related marketing! Sure, you’re a smaller sized nonprofit, you might not be able to partner with major international corporations like the ones listed above, but it’s definitely worth proposing some of the clever fundraising ideas above to local businesses in your community. You have the chance to raise awareness of your cause, expand your prospective donor base, and create a win-win situation for everyone involved.