Why nonprofits should engage in cause marketing
during the most wonderful time of the year
As the seasons start to change here in Washington, D.C., I’m reminded that the holidays will soon be upon us. Across the globe, it is a giving time of year and for nonprofits, a fundraising time of year. In fact, for most nonprofits, the end-of-year giving time is huge. According to Dickerson, Bakker & Associates, “nearly half of all charities report that they receive one-half to two-thirds of their overall contributions during the last quarter of the year.”
This is great news for nonprofits looking to hit their fundraising numbers before the year ends, but with more than 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the US alone – how does a nonprofit cut through the clutter, connect with donors and come out on top?
The Answer: Cause Marketing
Cause marketing needs to be a part of your end-of-year fundraising plans for four reasons. It helps nonprofits:
1) Engage Beyond the Usual Suspects
End-of-year fundraising often reaches out to past donors, volunteers or advocates through mailers or e-mail campaigns but does not reach beyond the nonprofits current rolodex. Cause marketing puts nonprofits out in front of consumers that may not have engaged with the organization before. It’s a great way to increase funds, as well as increase exposure and awareness to a larger population.
2) Connect with Millennials and Moms
According to the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study, 94% of respondents ages 18-24 find it acceptable for a company to involve a cause or issue in its marketing. And don’t let Millennials outshine another important group – Moms. Moms lead the cause consumers with 95% finding cause marketing positive versus the general population which comes in at 88%. This means by reaching out via cause marketing, your fundraising campaign will have a good chance of reaching these two important audiences.
3) Increase Involvement
Cause marketing is not just about cash. Cause marketing can also help a cause stand out from other nonprofits. According to another study by Cone their, 2010 Nonprofit Marketing Trend Tracker,
More than three-quarters (78%) of Americans believe a partnership between a nonprofit and a company they trust makes a cause stand out. When the cause breaks through:
- 50% are more likely to donate to the nonprofit
- 49% are more likely to participate in an event for the nonprofit and
- 41% are more likely to volunteer for the nonprofit.
4) Be Timely and Have a Hook
The holidays are a time where people are undoubtedly going to spend money on presents, gifts and entertaining so why not have some of the proceeds of these purchases go to your organization? It’s also an easy way to get people talking about a nonprofit. Many local, national and global media outlets compile ways to give back over the holidays that you can be included in. For example, last year the Huffington Post ran an article titled 5 Holiday Cause Promotions. You can also send out your own press release as we did at United Way last year or spread the word through other owned or shared media.
So now that you know why cause marketing is a holiday fundraising must, here are two great examples of partnerships to get you in the spirit.
United Way American Express Charity Gift Card
What it is: A co-branded United Way and American Express Gift Card. For every gift card you buy, American Express will donate the $3.95 purchase fee to United Way.
Why it works: Gift cards are a great gift for people around the holidays, especially for companies that are often looking to thank vendors, clients or employees. The cause marketing campaign is simple and straightforward and the lift from American Express, a respected and well-known brand also provides added trust and a new base of consumers for United Way to reach.
Macy’s “Come Together” Campaign for Feeding America
What it is: First, check out the video!
This campaign raised over 10 million meals for Feeding America. It was a multi-faceted partnership which asked individuals to host dinner parties at their homes through the holiday season and ask guests to donate funds which were matched by Macy’s dollar for dollar.
Why it works: The campaign had multiple assets that made it successful including a large celebrity cast, a connection to a time of year where many are already entertaining friends and family, a kick-off event dinner during Fashion Week, in-store events that involved employees and a direct mail, print and ad campaign.
So give your nonprofit a gift and create a cause marketing campaign to engage beyond the usual suspects,
connect with Millennials and Moms, build trust and capitalize on the most giving time of the year. While you may not have American Express or Martha and Mariah to support your cause, there are plenty of ways to get corporate partners involved to cut through the clutter, connect with donors and come out on top.
Don’t know where to begin? Check out Joe Waters’s Cause Marketing for Dummies – a great read to get you started.
Lauren Kinsey creates, promotes and manages cause marketing partnerships at United Way Worldwide. As the manager of cause marketing, she works with companies such as GE, Ralph Lauren and UPS in an effort to strengthen United Way’s brand, create new and loyal ambassadors and concurrently generate income and diversify revenue. She is also currently pursuing her masters in public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown University. Follow her on Twitter @LEKinsey or LinkedIn to connect about cause marketing, nonprofit and corporate partnerships and corporate social responsibility.