Cause Marketing for Newbies—Your Nonprofit Has Heart, It’s Time to Share It

You have heart. And, as every movie ever will teach us, that’s more valuable than money, power or muscles. Your nonprofit is passionately working to make the world a better place. And while you may not bring in revenue like the big boy companies, your cause is far more noble than theirs. And that gives you a leg up on the competition. In fact, that puts you in a league of your own.

Large companies (like Walmart) are often villainized for killing the mom and pop shops of the world, and could do with some of your Glinda the Good Witch persona. And even if they’re not evil monsters, the mere fact that they’re for-profit and you do it out of the goodness of your heart means you have something they want: a connection to a selfless cause. Now the task at hand is finding the right business to form a cause marketing relationship with, and then convincing them that you are a worthy cause for them to support. We know you are; it’s time to tell them. Here’s how:

Use Your Arguments

The proof is in the pudding. Cause marketing has been shown to significantly impact sales: In 2012 thus far, 47% of consumers have purchased a brand product monthly that supports a cause. (This is a 47% increase from 2010.) Not convinced yet? There has been a 34% increase in people who would “promote” cause-related brands, and 9% would switch brands if a similar brand started supporting a good cause.

Take these statistics and run with them. Conduct your own research and surveys if possible and then prepare to present them to various businesses. And don’t forget to smile. That’s the big seller.

Use Your Examples

It works, I promise. I’m not making this stuff up. If you won’t take my word for it or if you can’t perceive my honest nature from my picture up there in the corner, I’ll show you. Here’s a few real companies, using real cause marketing, getting real results. Really.

1. Tēvolution 

When in doubt, keep it simple. If you’re new to cause marketing partnerships, it’s best to start with something simple. And that’s just what Jumpstart, Project Night Night, Bear Necessities, and the National Brain Tumor Society did.

Each time someone purchased one of Tēvolution’s delicious teas during their ‘Twist. Sip. Give.’ campaign, they could enter a text code printed behind the label to donate a quarter to one of their four nonprofit partners. It’s simple, it’s not asking for a lot of donors, it’s direct and it worked.

2. Dependable Cleaners 

If at all possible, find a company that pairs well with your nonprofit. For example, The Ellie Fund—a breast cancer fighting nonprofit out of Boston—partnered with 40 local businesses who agreed to donate a minimum of $1,000 through purchase-triggered donations. One of our favorites? Dependable Cleaners offered 20% off of dry cleaning services for pink products.

Not only did The Ellie Fund take advantage of the large potential for purchase-triggered programs, they also managed to tie in the marketing campaign with their perfectly pink cause.

3. Peapod

If you’re savvy, embrace technology. Peapod lets you purchase groceries for yourself online and then hand delivers the goods to your door. They agreed to pair with The Food Bank of New York City, allowing Peapod users to purchase groceries for those in need. Not only did this team take advantage of cool, unique technology, but their business models fit together nicely.

Use Your Perseverance

And just like your mother told you after your first girl or boy crush shot you down, you (and your nonprofit) are a catch. And don’t ever you forget it. Your nonprofit may get rejected a few (or even several) times when searching for its cause marketing soul mate, but don’t give up hope—there are plenty of charitable fish in the sea. Keep throwing out those lures and you’re sure to get a nibble that leads to a bite.

What’s worked for you to start a cause marketing relationship? Let me know in the comments below!


Kathryn Pauley

Kathryn is a regular contributor to the Nonprofit Hub. Soon to be college graduate, she enjoys helping nonprofits understand better how to reach the millennial demographic—cause we are living in a millennial world, and Kathryn's a millennial girl. With experience leading the largest student-run charity event on her campus, she looks forward to bringing her unique perspective to the Hub team every day.

July 23, 2012

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