Partnering for a Better World
For your nonprofit staff thinking about developing or expanding corporate relationships, it is critical to understand a few concepts.
1. Cause marketing is not a disguised ask for a purely philanthropic gift. Nonprofits seeking to develop corporate alliances must first determine what value they can bring to a business partner (e.g., a powerful brand, an active community of supporters, intellectual property, ability to connect with a desirable demographic group). Armed with the knowledge that they can add value (and that they have the internal systems to service a business partner), they can confidently discuss opportunities with potential partners.
2. Cause marketing encompasses a broad range of business goals. Although the best known campaigns seek to influence consumers, many programs target retailers, employees or other stakeholders, and most engage a combination of those groups. Strategic and tactical goals can range from increasing sales, enhancing brand reputation, generating loyalty, attracting and retaining employees, generating referrals, or reducing expenses, etc.
3. Cause marketing is not only about campaigns linking donations to sales. To help businesses and nonprofits expand their vision of what they can achieve together, "Good Works" breaks down this field into six types of initiatives:
- Cause-related Marketing links donations to consumer action (Pampers donating a maternal tetanus vaccination to UNICEF when a package of disposable diapers is purchased).
- Cause Promotion spreads awareness of causes and often encourages people to donate money or time to them (Macy's asking consumers to donate to Reading Is Fundamental and rewarding them with discounts).
- Corporate Social Marketing generates behavior changes (Energizer and the International Association of Fire Chiefs advising consumers to change smoke alarm batteries when they change their clocks).
- Corporate Philanthropy involves direct corporate contributions (Pfizer supports the International Trachoma Initiative with cash grants and in-kind donations of medicine).
- Community Volunteering supports employees, retail partners or franchisees in volunteering their time (FedEx engages employees around the world in the Safe Kids Walk This Way initiative).
- Socially responsible business practices support social causes, community well-being or the environment (Whole Foods Market has partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to develop a labeling system identifying the sustainability of various types of seafood).
Ideally, purpose-driven marketing is a well-thought-out, long-term endeavor. Short-term thinking still dominates at many companies, which can make it difficult to maximize the impact of purpose-driven marketing (or many other types of marketing for that matter).