Thinking Pink: Things to Consider When Considering Cause-Related Marketing
Have you noticed a preponderance of pink this month? It seems every company, national and local, is participating in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I noticed a local pizza chain turned its weekly ad on Sunday into a sea of pink (but fortunately it isn't selling pink pizzas).
All this attention to an important cause is great, but there is one downside. It's about now that board members and some colleagues say, "You know, we have a great cause, so we need to get some of those corporate partnerships, too. Can you look into that? I mean, how hard can it be?"
But as fundraisers, we know it's never as easy as it seems. If it were, we wouldn't need continuing education and newsletters like this one, and every nonprofit would have more money than it could spend on worthwhile programs. So, before you fanaticize about doing away with these well-meaning colleagues, here are some things to consider.
Know what pocket you need to dig in to
Corporate partnerships, are, for the most part, a marketing expense. Corporations may make donations as part of their commitment to philanthropy, but a corporate sponsorship isn't part of that. The other name for these kinds of partnerships is cause-related marketing — and "marketing" is the all-important word.
Corporations put their marketing dollars where they are going to get the best return on their investments. So your job is to figure out why your nonprofit is a better investment than, say, an insert in the newspaper.
Know what you have to offer
Marketing is about give and take — Company X gives up money in exchange for advertising or "promotional consideration." Cause-related marketing agreements aren't entered into simply because companies want to help make the world a better place. Sure, they all do (or say they do), but that's the role of their corporate philanthropy departments.