United Way, YMCA, Salvation Army, Red Cross… These are just a few of the largest charities in the United States of America. Why do you know these and other philanthropic organizations? Because according to an article in www.onPhilanthropy.com, charities spend over $7 billion per year on marketing and public relations activities. Yes…It costs a lot of money to raise a dollar. So how do for-profit businesses leverage the marketing power of non-profit organizations? It’s called cause-related marketing or cause marketing. This type of marketing effort is used to provide mutually beneficial results for both the business and charity involved… Below are three general categories that cause marketing programs fall under according to Cause Marketing Forum.

1. Transactional: Programs that elicit participation with an offer to make a contribution to a designated cause based on consumer activity such as buying a specific product, redeeming a coupon, registering at a website or shopping at a particular retail chain.
2. Message Promotion: Joint campaigns that raise awareness of a cause’s message (e.g. fight skin cancer) or participation in its programs (e.g. join us in a coastal cleanup) while building a positive association with the corporate sponsor or its brands.
3. Licensing: Independent Sector defines cause marketing licensing as “An agreement in which the nonprofit allows its information or knowledge to be used for a fee or an agreement in which a nonprofit’s name is attached to a product. Typically, a nonprofit licenses a company to develop, produce, market and/or distribute a mission-related product that is promoted either with the organization’s brand name or co-branded with both the company’s and nonprofit’s names.”

There are few “pure plays” in cause marketing; most programs combine two or three of these tactics.

Don’t forget that there are many charities out there that are trying to get their message out to the masses. How can you use cause marketing in your mix to genuinely help those organizations while also advancing your own business image?

-Ernie DiMalanta

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