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Great Summer Reading: Cause Marketing for Dummies

Want some inspiring summer reading?  Last week I sat down on the dock planning to thumb through this book, but found myself plowing right through and really enjoying it!

And I don’t usually think of myself as a “dummie,” but I have to admit that Joe Waters and Joanna MacDonald’s new book -  Cause Marketing for Dummies - sure set me straight about what cause marketing is and isn’t.  If you thought you knew what it was and how to do it, you might want to think again...and read this great new book.

What is cause marketing?

According to Joe and Joanna:

“Cause marketing is the partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit for mutual profit.”

“It isn’t the marketing of causes, nor is it a catchall for every type of promotion or fundraising program between a company and a cause. It is its own unique practice that has parameters, tools and techniques.”

Why should non-profits consider cause marketing?

According to the IEG Sponsorship Report, cause marketing was predicted to reach $1.61 billion in 2010. The reason for  its healthy growth is consumer acceptance. The 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study reports that “83% of Americans would like to see more of the products, services or retailer they use support worthy causes.  86% of consumers reassure nonprofit organizations that purchasing a cause-related product does not replace their traditional donations to their favorite charity.”

Has your organization ventured into the cause marketing arena yet?

This book is a cause marketing primer that would be an excellent starting point for organizations that haven’t yet investigated “partnerships between companies and causes.”  Joe Waters and Joanna MacDonald wrote this book “to share what [they] had learned developing successful cause marketing programs and to bring small companies and nonprofits together for win-win partnerships.” While I read it with our Wild Apricot users and blog readers in mind - small non-profits and membership-based organizations - I think its message would resonate with organizations  large or  small.

Here are a few the key takeaways from the book that are relevant for small non-profits:

Why small non-profits should consider cause marketing:

  • Consumers want companies to act locally. This point is critical for local causes and businesses that may feel that cause marketing is only for bigger charities and companies. Nearly half of the respondents to the Cone study said companies should focus on issues that impact local communities. And 91 percent said that companies should support an issue in the communities where they do business.”

  • Technology is leveling the playing field. If large causes and companies had an advantage in the past, that’s changing thanks to new technologies, such as social media, the mobile web, location-based services and quick response codes (QR codes)…which promise to arm local companies and causes with the tools they need to compete.”

The benefits of cause marketing:

  • A new source of revenue from companies. While the community relations arm of a company awards grants, and senior management are prospects for individual gifts, cause marketing taps the marketing muscle of the company and opens a new door in the corporate suite.

  • Increased awareness: Cause marketing gives causes a voice, a presence, in an increasingly crowded and competitive world.

  • It opens new doors. Cause marketing has led to “a more progressive and innovative approach to fundraising.”

  • It reaches new donors. Many causes want to target a new, younger generation. …The cone study confirms Millennials are enthusiastic about cause marketing and their brand decisions are influenced by social/environmental causes.

Advice for cause marketing beginners:

  • Leverage what you’ve got: “Every cause has assets that can be useful to their cause marketing program. …Recognizing assets requires savvy and smarts: the savvy to see them and the smarts to use them.

  • Use your events to land new partners. Most causes host large, well-attended and successful events that can be easily leveraged to recruit cause marketing partners.

  • Highly motivated consumers and employees can make a big difference in the success of your cause marketing program. Employees that are motivated to support the cause are more enthusiastic fundraisers. Employees that are better trained… can better communicate the program to consumers. Incentives can boost employee motivation when used sparingly and strategically.

  • It’s about selling! Selling is the thing that will turn your cause marketing idea into a promotion with a real cause or business.

  • Finding the right partner:  if you already have a partner, cause marketing is a “no-brainer” and it can also deepen the bonds you have with existing corporate donors.  When targeting businesses, look for the intersection of location and experience with the mission. … Companies that are geographically connected to your nonprofit’s mission are the easiest targets.

  • Cause marketing is not the road to riches. Joe and Joanna note that “based on [their] experience, most causes can raise an additional 5 to 15 percent of their revenues from cause marketing.”

This is only a glimpse at the information, insight and examples that this book has to offer!

To check out Cause Marketing for Dummies:

  • Visit their book page. There you’ll learn how to get access to:
    • two cause marketing recordings direct from the leading organization for cause marketers, Cause Marketing Forum
    • a great tips sheet on 7 Copywriting Mistakes Cause Marketers Make
    • a special invitation to an October webinar: 10 More Cause Marketing Tricks, Tools & Tactics.

You get all these for FREE when you buy the book and send your receipt to book@selfishgiving.com.

  • Visit Amazon and review the book. The first 20 reviewers will get a coupon code for $83 off (83 to commemorate the year of the first cause marketing promotion between American Express and the nonprofit restoring the Statue of Liberty!)

Has your organization tried cause marketing?  Share any tips or ideas you have in the comments section below.

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