I will admit I’m conflicted about the new Pause to Support a Cause program launched by the CMO Council and other organizations. The initiative’s goal is to attract consumers to participate in market research conducted by corporations by offering to make donations to favorite causes in return for their participation. (For further information, click here.)
On the one hand, how could I be against any program that has the potential to raise additional money for a host of great causes, some of them clients of IEG Sponsorship Consulting? Yet there is something that bugs me about this effort. more
My colleague Dan Kowitz's earlier post on cause marketing illustrated a potentially troubling trend for companies and nonprofits involved in cause marketing.
Though recent consumer research seems to encourage companies to get more involved with causes, those companies will be facing consumers with big expectations. With many companies making six-figure minimum cause marketing guarantees, the bar has been set pretty high. “Go big or go home” might be true with respect to sponsorship, but it seems like a dangerous game to play with cause marketing.
A reporter contacted us last week for comments on the California State Parks' decision to work with corporate sponsors to keep open as many as 100 parks threatened with closing due to budget cuts. For more information on the program, click here.
It can be tricky to attract and recognize sponsors appropriately in any venue, and green spaces like parks are especially tough to do well. Tough, but by no means impossible. The CA State Parks are not selling naming rights to their green spaces, but will recognize sponsors with “tasteful” signage crediting them with helping to keep the park open. (Source: The Los Angeles Times.) Provided that signage doesn't block any vistas, it should be seen as appropriate acknowledgment of the sponsor's contribution, much like a philanthropic gift would be recognized. That sort of strategic philanthropy may be just the thing for sponsors seeking a low-profile community connection in these sensitive times. more
We rarely distinguish among the many types of nonprofit/corporate alliances—seven of which I spelled out in my last blog posting—instead lumping them all under one umbrella.
This is a costly oversight. Nonprofit executives who view discrete practices such as cause marketing and strategic philanthropy as interchangeable are unable to maximize their organization’s capture of unrestricted corporate revenue.
Comments from blog readers reveal the tendency to view strategic alliances—each with its own set of rights, benefits and obligations—through a single lens. For example, although commenters said they disagreed with my critique of Corporate Social Responsibility, they went on to address cause marketing, not CSR.
Working with so many corporate clients in so many categories gives us real-time feedback on changing sponsorship objectives. Increasingly clients are identifying “showcase Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” as a top sponsorship objective.
When we hear this, we ask clients a series of questions to clarify that CSR is actually the focus, and not strategic philanthropy or cause marketing, as the three terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably.
Here’s how they differ: more
As this article explains, as part of a ₤1 million fundraising effort for a new museum dedicated to Robert Burns, the National Trust for Scotland is auctioning off “sponsorship” of a manuscript of Burns’ Auld Lang Syne. The Trust is hoping to get ₤50,000, which entitles the winning bidder to a plaque at the museum’s display of the original manuscript.
I have to believe that preserving an iconic work of Scotland’s native son could inspire Scots and Burns—lovers to step up with more than ₤50,000, provided they have a vehicle to do so. Perhaps a cause-related marketing campaign could have been that vehicle—not unlike American Express’ 1983 campaign to restore the Statue of Liberty.
Each year there are a handful of guest speakers at the IEG Conference that really make an impression on me for a variety of reasons. One of the presentations that stood out to me from the 2009 IEG Conference was a presentation by Liz Cahill, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Lee Jeans, who spoke about Lee National Denim Day.
What really impressed me was how the program has evolved since 1996. For a program that is fairly extensive, Lee National Denim Day is supported by a pretty lean staff and budget. Basically, the Lee team internally created and grew the program with a lot of hard work, a little bit of luck and some trial and error.
To me, Lee National Denim Day feels authentic, is a great fit with the brand and is a simple concept: wear jeans on a particular day and donate $5. The campaign materials never specify to wear Lee Jeans and the program is more about raising funds to fight breast cancer and less about selling a pair of jeans. With the recent criticism of cause marketing being called “consumption philanthropy”, I would think that the critics would have a harder time finding fault with this program compared to some of the other donation-with-purchase structured programs. more
Industry veteran Willie Cone shared some great sales tips for nonprofits in his presentation Cause Marketing Partnerships: The Real Deal. more