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The Third Way – Celebrating Cause Marketing

Resource Center - Foundation

(May 22, 2012) There are at least three ways to think of the exchange of money between a donor and a nonprofit. First is philanthropy; a donation with little expectation of recognition. Second is sponsorship; this is the case of marketing money being provided to a nonprofit to promote the company tied to the event or program. The third way is cause marketing; when a company puts the power of its brand and marketing behind a cause for mutual benefit.

It was Jocelyne Daw’s early experience with the Post Fruit and Fibre cereal campaign in support of Canada’s National Parks that “changed her life,” and opened her eyes to the potential of cause marketing for the nonprofit sector. At the AFP International Conference on Fundraising, she and Brent Buechler presented a session on the evolution of cause marketing that started with the crucial Four P’s of cause marketing.

  • PARTNER - Mutually beneficial
  • PURPOSE - Marketing with meaning, values driven
  • PASSION - Emotional and personal values connection: the “secret sauce” of nonprofit sector but companies are learning how to apply
  • PROFITS – Value producer: cause relationships can drive profits on both sides

Without a doubt, the partnership aspect of cause marketing is the hinge that opened the door to the tremendous potential this tool has demonstrated, they explained. For the corporate partner, cause marketing provides a public and human face to being a corporate “citizen,” and demonstrates what the company stands for. The win for the nonprofit partner is exposure: connecting with a new audience and leveraging the influence of an established brand. A partnership of this kind also incorporates the positives of a business approach to fundraising, including results-driven action.

The proof is in the numbers

It’s not just the cause marketing partners who benefit from the relationship – Daw and Buechler provide both U.S. and Canadian evidence that consumers also approve of the arrangement.

Have bought a product or service because it was associated with a cause or issue over the past 12 months:





Also, 79 percent would be likely to switch from one brand to another brand...if the other brand is associated with a good cause. And 85 percent of Americans find it acceptable for companies to involve a cause or issue in their marketing.

In 2010, research undertaken by Loyalty One and the Canadian Marketing Association indicated that Canadians want to know what business is doing in the community: “...consumers are making it clear that there is a strong connection between loyalty and a company’s willingness to support social causes.”

For some, consumerism is being replaced by cause-ism, and if being tied to a cause is the new normal, Daw and Buechler argue, you don’t want to be left behind.

Jocelyne Daw is president of JS Daw & Associates and author of Cause Marketing for Nonprofits and Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding, both available in the AFP Bookstore.

Brent Buechler is manager of partnerships at Calgary Public Library Foundation in Calgary, Alberta.

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