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Green Gift Monday Promotes Positive Change and Provides Free Marketing

3p is proud to partner with the Presidio Graduate School’s Managerial Marketing course on a blogging series about “sustainable marketing.” This post is part of that series. To follow along, please click here.

By Jennifer Wagner

Despite the economic downturn and complaints about consumerism co-opting the real meaning of the holidays, the average American plans to spend over $700 on Christmas gifts this year. Fortunately, data from Google Insights for Search shows that online shopper interest in eco-friendly and fair trade products increases at a disproportionally high rate during November and December, suggesting that at least some consumers are thinking about how they can minimize the environmental impact or maximize the social benefits of their gifts.

In support of this trend, The Nature Conservancy has launched its Green Gift Monday campaign for the second year, encouraging shoppers to choose “responsible, meaningful holiday gifts” on Cyber Monday (November 28) and throughout the holiday season. The campaign’s website encourages visitors to take a pledge to “give the gift of green” and provides a collection of articles and links to help turn good intentions into action, from do-it-yourself projects to tips for making the holiday greener.

The Green Gift Monday campaign represents guerrilla marketing its best. Consumers and businesses who have an interest in “promoting green gifting awareness” are encouraged to post an online badge that includes a link back to the Conservancy’s website and to participate in the campaign’s Twitter feed at #GGM2011. In addition to promoting a social movement that is well aligned with its mission, Green Gift Monday has the added benefits of expanding the Conservancy’s mailing lists and getting greater exposure for its gift memberships through the “Give the Gift of Conservation” link, featured prominently on the campaign’s website.

With a growing list of partner organizations and online promoters, including Mother Nature Network, Chronicle of Philanthropy and blissmo, the tactic seems to be working to get the message out. According to Rare, the 2010 campaign resulted in over 900 links to the #GGM2010 hashtag and another 500 social media references to “Green Gift Monday,” and in just a week, over 100 references have been made to the 2011 hashtag, #GGM2011.

While some environmentalists may decry gift giving as an inherently unsustainable activity, most Americans find gifting to be personally rewarding and an integral part of their holiday traditions. With Americans estimated to spend over $100 billion on holiday gifts annually, there is both an environmental and economic business case for sustainably-minded organizations to come together to collectively support more thoughtful and responsible gift giving. Other organizations should take a cue from the Conservancy’s efforts and think about how to promote organizational goals through broader messaging that leverages collaboration, rather than competition, to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Tis’ the season to come together!

Jennifer Wagner is a human capital consultant and an MBA candidate at Presidio Graduate School.

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