By Kerri Moore
More than three-quarters (87 percent) of consumers say they would gladly choose one brand over any other if that brand represented or benefitted a worthy cause.
And more than 90 percent of college students said they would be less likely to skip through or ignore an ad that promoted the company’s relationship with a charity.
All of that is just to say that cause marketing is incredibly influential— and beneficial to all parties involved.
Businesses that run cause marketing campaigns receive a boon in sales; the nonprofits they partner with secure crucial funding, and most importantly: the communities and causes they serve get help and recognition.
It could not be more of a perfect win-win-win situation.
But just as with any other sort of marketing or fundraising campaign, there are more than a few best practices.
That’s why, in this article, we’re exploring the top tips for your next cause marketing campaign.
Want to increase your revenue while you make the world a better place? Find out how by scrolling down!
1. Decide on a scale-appropriate cause marketing tactic
There are dozens of ways for business to give back.
Beyond donating and giving out grants, companies that are looking to bolster their corporate social responsibility (CSR) may choose to invest in cause marketing.
That being said, there are also dozens of avenues that a business can pursue within cause marketing, including (but certainly not limited to):
- Point-of-sale cause marketing,
- Also known as register programs, point-of-sale cause marketing involves asking consumers to donate a few dollars in addition to the purchases that they make at a given store.
- Purchase or action-triggered donating,
- This is typically when a consumer makes a purchase, and a portion of the proceeds are put aside for a cause.
- Product licensing,
- Companies will pay to put a nonprofit’s name or logo on their products. Often, these products will boast donating a percentage of the proceeds to the nonprofit.
- Fundraising events,
- Hosting events, like charity auctions, is yet another way for a business to raise money and awareness for a certain cause.
- Employee engagement,
- Many companies choose to incentivize their employees to donate their time volunteering with certain causes as a way to boost their reputation and do good in their communities.
- Message promotion,
- Message promotion is a form of cause marketing during which a business backs a certain stance while partnering with a nonprofit that would like to get that message across but doesn’t have the expendable resources that a larger company does.
- And digital programs.
- This one is fairly simple and just involves a company using their social media outlets to raise money and awareness on behalf of a nonprofit organization.
Not all of these tactics will be feasible for your company. And that’s okay.
The key is to find a CSR option that works well with the size and scope of your business.
Cause marketing avenues like licensing products can be expensive and involved processes — ones that take time, approval processes, and deep pockets.
If you don’t have all three of those attributes to bring to the table, but you still want to make some positive waves, you can always host a fundraising event or run a digital PR campaign.
Need some advice for how to launch an event on behalf of your favorite charity? Make sure you check out Booster’s fundraising event tips.
Takeaway: Choose the tactic that makes the most sense for your organization and know that some cause marketing strategies involve substantially more time and money than others.
2. Be sure that your values align with the cause you’re marketing
As you’re contemplating a partnership with a charitable organization, take a moment to assess if the cause you’re about to support aligns with your business’s mission statement and overall values.
Let’s say that you’re a sporting goods company.
Would it make sense to partner with a charity that primarily builds homes for those that need them in other countries?
Sure, it’s a worthy cause, and certainly some business should take up that mantle.
But does it fit in with your target demographics? Does it speak to what your business is all about? How do sporting goods relate to this cause?
The answer is simple: the cause is worthy and wonderful, but it’s just not a proper fit.
A more well-suited cause marketing campaign might have something to do with promoting healthy lifestyles— encouraging children to get out and play for 60 minutes a day, for instance.
Partnering with a health and wellness advocacy group, then, might make more sense for a sporting goods business.
Not only does it make more business sense, it’s also just all-around more beneficial for the cause. The more targeted your marketing, the more support you’ll be able to garner for the charity you’re helping out.
Take a page straight out of the book from these companies: 5 Companies Doing Corporate Philanthropy Right.
Takeaway: As long as your company’s values align well with those of the cause you’re aiming to market, you’ll not only help your own reputation, but you’ll also be able to have a greater impact and reach for the nonprofit you’re supporting.
3. Create branded products for your campaign
Slightly different from licensing products to raise money and awareness for a nonprofit, creating branded products like T-shirts and mugs is yet another way that even smaller businesses can help benefit great causes.
If there’s a cause that your small (or even large) business is passionate about, then branded products are absolutely a consideration you should make.
There are countless options for creating your own products to sell on behalf of a nonprofit or in support of a message.
And there are, of course, companies like Booster that facilitate cause marketing through T-shirt creation and crowdfunding promotion.
How does something like T-shirt crowdfunding work, though?
It’s actually pretty intuitive. All it really takes is:
- Creating your own custom design (with professional help, if you need it),
- Setting a goal and therefore a price for each item,
- Customizing a crowdfunding page,
- Promoting said page online,
- Tracking sales/donations,
- And finally, collecting your funds.
You can also set this kind of cause marketing up in conjunction with a fundraising event, like a 5K fun run or a benefit concert.
That way, you extend your marketing reach, you entertain your key demographics, and you leave participants with a lasting representation of your company’s affiliation with a great cause.
Think about it: the next time any of your event’s participants wear the shirt you created, they’ll be reminded of the fantastic time they had as well as the positive association of the charity they supported with your help.
Once again, cause marketing is win for everyone involved. And of course, you don’t have to limit your scope to T-shirts, although, they do pair particularly well with fundraising events.
Click here for more creative ideas for your next fundraising campaign.
Takeaway: Designing and marketing a fundraising product is a wonderful way to raise money as well as awareness for a given cause or nonprofit.
4. Make your cause marketing campaign viral-worthy
If you know anything about social media, you know that “viral” is not as off-putting or foreboding as it sounds.
It has very little to do with disease and a lot to do with the hottest kind of marketing these days.
Viral marketing, in essence, is a method of product (or cause) marketing that relies on consumers to spread the word about an idea, service, or product to their friends and families, who then tell their friends and families until everyone’s heard about it.
A prime example of a viral cause marketing campaign was the ALS ice bucket challenge.
Everyone and their grandmother was dumping buckets full of ice water over their heads on the internet in the name of raising awareness and funds to find treatments and the cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — ALS.
These videos were shared all over because they were:
- Meaningful and impactful,
- And imperative (if someone tagged you in their video, you had to post one of your own).
And it wasn’t just social-media-savvy millennials participating, either. The ice bucket challenge touched all facets of the population because of its universally positive and hopeful message.
So how does your business create viral content?
Unfortunately, there’s no set recipe.
There are some essential components to viral content, however. Chief among them is universality. If your message is infinitely relatable, then chances are people will share your content of their own volition.
Authenticity is another factor that’s way up there. If people feel that your message is not genuine, they’ll be far less likely to share it on their personal pages.
Above all else, people want to feel that viral content speaks to them and about them.
When they share it with their friends and family, they’re hoping that it represents their personal brand well. Everyone wants to be associated with a great cause, with something larger than themselves.
Keep all of that in mind, and you’re destined to create an amazing digital cause marketing campaign (with the potential to become viral).
But just like you can’t plan to win the lottery, you can’t plan for your content to go viral. It does help to buy lottery tickets— and to craft incredible campaigns.
Takeaway: Creating viral-worthy cause marketing materials isn’t impossible. It takes time and a lot of forethought— and some luck, we’ll admit. But the crucial step is investing in infinitely shareable ideas that tap into the human experience.
5. Involve your employees in your cause marketing campaign
It may seem counter-intuitive to let your employees leave for an hour each week to invest their time and energy in a nonprofit’s cause.
But allowing them to spend that hour each week volunteering is actually not a waste of money for your company.
It’s an investment. In the future, and yes, in your company.
You see, when employees feel that their companies have their communities’ interests at heart, they’re more incentivized to continue working and to work harder.
CSR is an important part of most modern employees’ decisions to stay with or sign on with a company.
Even when an employee works remotely, there are ways to engage with them that further your cause marketing and corporate social responsibility goals.
If your company participates in programs like matching gifts or volunteer grants, you can absolutely make that a focus of your cause marketing campaign.
Regardless, it’s a good idea to involve your employees in your cause marketing and CSR. Not only are they bound to have some stellar ideas, they’re also more likely to engage with your programs if they feel like they’ve had a say in the process.
Let your employees’ voices be heard, and you’ll be sure to hear a resoundingly positive echo.
This could mean letting them choose the charity you support by a democratic vote. Or it could mean rotating the the causes you market to appease multiple kinds of passionate employees.
Takeaway: Involving your employees in cause marketing decisions will ultimately make both your company and your campaign more successful.
6. Turn the campaign into an annual fundraising event
Imagine if Earth Day had just been a flash in the pan in 1970.
It easily could have been.
Because it was such a success the first year, though, it became an annual event. Now it’s such an ingrained tradition that people hardly remember that it started as a small movement.
It’s celebrated in over 190 countries worldwide.
Okay, so maybe your cause marketing campaign won’t be quite as far-reaching or universal. But it could absolutely become a local or even a regional tradition. A staple in your community, if you will.
All it really takes is:
- Hosting a spectacular fundraiser,
- Gauging interest for next year,
- Planning a new twist on the same theme,
- And arranging for the event to be recurring.
If you strike PR gold the first time around, you’ll never know until you try again if it was a fluke or a fabulous idea.
You may be sitting on the idea for the next Earth Day!
Need some ideas for making your fundraising events more exciting and engaging? Look no further than Booster’s ideas for spicing up your next event.
Takeaway: Another great way to enhance a cause marketing campaign is by turning a one-time fundraising event into an annual tradition.
7. Don’t forget to follow up with donors
One of the biggest mistakes that businesses and nonprofits alike make is forgetting or neglecting to follow up with their supporters.
More than 50 percent of donors cite leaving an organization or discontinuing support of a business due to a lack of communication.
That’s why it’s of the utmost importance that throughout your campaign and certainly in the wake of it, you should be periodically filling supporters in on the latest news.
Whether that means letting them know exactly how much money has been raised through joint efforts or giving them status updates on the projects that the money is funding, it’s critical to keep donors and consumers up-to-date.
You can follow up via:
- Social media
- Phone calls
- And more
In addition to these methods, letters are a great way to communicate with consumers and donors.
There are few things as personal and meaningful as receiving a nice, thoughtful letter in the mail. Especially one that thanks the recipient for their part in making the world a better place.
Takeaway: In order to keep supporters coming back, it’s important to keep in contact with them and update them on the progress of your endeavors. It’s also a good idea to thank them along the way.
That’s all, folks!
Thanks so much for reading. We hope you learned a bit more about cause marketing and how you can enhance your next campaign.
Kerri Moore is the Director of Marketing at Booster, Created by CustomInk. She and her team help create content aimed at maximizing organizers’ fundraising potential and furthering their mission to raise awareness for the cause or passion that means the most to them.
Images courtesy of the author