As more organizations in the for-profit sector take on the causes of nonprofits, reports like the one from PRWeek and Barkley Public Relations emerge. This survey of the field shows the view growing importance of cause marketing in the for-profit sector, from Whirlpool and KitchenAid to Newman’s Own. More consumers are basing their decisions of where to put their money on where a corporation is putting its money.

Corporations enjoy the benefit of giving back to a cause that aligns with their established brand and “heart,” as well as the attraction and retention of consumers drawn to the same cause. Nonprofits targeted through these cause marketing campaigns gain added financial support and recognition.

But what about the millions of nonprofits that are working throughout the country but are either too small to gain the attention of potential corporations or are working in the same field as a much larger organization with more visibility? If your organization provides special meetings and events for children with life threatening diseases but serve only those patients in your local county’s hospitals, a corporation may choose to market with Make-A-Wish Foundation instead because there is a much larger consumer base that already knows that organization and its work.

Cause marketing can really benefit all three parties involved: The corporation, the cause/nonprofit, and the consumers. Everyone can feel good for being a part of positive social activism.

But back to those very small nonprofits…Contact local corporations and discuss how they could sponsor an annual event, fundraiser, or even commit to a 5 or 10-year cause campaign. Be sure that the corporation is one that your nonprofit feels comfortable aligning with, has a mission and public presence that is similar enough to align with your organization, and you are ready and willing to commit to the partnership on your end, too.

What do you think about corporate cause marketing? Is it an entirely different kind of philanthropy?

For-profits using your cause for marketing?
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  • I don’t see corporate cause marketing as a different type of philanthropy unless the corporate becomes a glutton patting themselves on the back. I’ve always recommended that clients lean on the non-profit to tell the story so they aren’t tooting their own horn. But frankly, it doesn’t always work that way.

    Still, excessive “look at me” detracts from the importance of the non-profit, the cause and the end beneficiaries.