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4 Ideas to Overhaul Your Cause Marketing Strategies

by Andrew Blatney

Nonprofits and businesses are different in some ways, but they share a key goal: to attract more loyalty to their organizations. A typical way to gain visibility for your business’ products and services or nonprofit programs is to invest in marketing campaigns. This is where cause marketing becomes relevant and can help you stand out.

Cause marketing is a modern philanthropy strategy that businesses use to collaborate with nonprofits, catalyze social change, and organically earn positive recognition for their charitable activities. This strategy has become increasingly relevant currently, as an overwhelming majority of consumers favor socially-conscious businesses. Updated metrics from Views for Change reflect this:

  • 94% of Gen-Z believe companies should engage in charitable activities.
  • Over 90% of shoppers are likely to trust socially-conscious companies and patronize them over competitors.
  • 92% of buyers want to support a business that benefits a social cause.
  • 85% of consumers have a more positive impression of philanthropic companies.

To follow consumer demand and better their communities, nearly 90% of companies on the S&P 500 have adopted corporate philanthropy programs, up from just 20% in 2011.

If your business hasn’t followed suit, there’s no better time to start than now. Conversely, if you’ve tried out cause marketing and haven’t seen results, you may want to review and revamp your approach. Here are four ways to leverage cause marketing to reach new customers and make a positive impact on your community.

1. Use Cohesive Brand Elements For Your Cause Marketing Campaigns

With the majority of the corporate world engaged in CSR programs, you’ll want to set your initiative apart. As a business professional, you likely already know the importance of branding, and it’s a key component of cause marketing as well. Creating new, but complementary, brand elements can help your initiatives stand out, reinforce to others your commitment, and refresh your brand in positive ways:

  • Relevant imagery
  • Slogan
  • Campaign messaging
  • Color (likely similar to your current brand)
  • Logo
  • Social media/website content

Since there may be more than one organization participating in a cause marketing campaign, you’ll need to work together with any partners to combine the most important elements from each organization’s branding in ways that complement each other. Remembering to add this new logo and links to your website, social media, and other marketing assets will make your brand an integral part of the initiative’s identity and purpose. Ultimately, your audience will likely start associating you with your cause, initiative, and/or nonprofit partner and remember you as a socially responsible business.

2. Get Your Entire Team Involved

Your cause marketing campaign will be more effective if as many people as possible are talking about it. A logical way to start spreading the word is through your staff. Here are some ways you can spread the wor about your cause marketing campaign through your employees’ involvement:

  • Match their contributions. According to Double the Donation, only 7% of donors employed by gift-matching companies actually submit a matching gift request. Matching your employees’ contributions to your nonprofit partner is an easy way to incentivize more participation.
  • Offer volunteer time off. Many donors don’t donate their time because of hectic work schedules. Bridge that gap by offering paid volunteering time during the work week.
  • Invite your nonprofit partner(s) to share what they do at your workplace, perhaps through a lunch and learn, launch party at your stores/locations, or simply adding content or their events to your employee newsletters.
  • Start social media or supply drive challenges. You might offer your staff special perks for being social ambassadors for the campaign. For instance, you can launch a crowdfunding campaign or supply drive in which employees responsible for the most donations get branded merchandise or extra time off.
Besides spreading your cause, involving your employees directly in your CSR initiative can have numerous business benefits for you, such as increased employee satisfaction, retention, and engagement. Furthermore, you’ll reinforce a culture of caring as a core value everyone at your company can demonstrate, not just the marketing or CSR program coordinator.

3. Cross-Promote With Nonprofit Influencers And Educators Online

One of the most valuable campaign outcomes for a cause partner, besides donations, is increased awareness. While your company might not be a thought leader in this space, you can connect with people who are: nonprofit professionals and educators with significant followings. Associating with a reputable expert will help educate your employees and customers about why your cause is important, as well as reinforce your commitment beyond financial donations.

It’s never been easier to connect with thought leaders around the world with the popularization of virtual events; if your person of interest is widely known online, it’s even possible to engage them through email or direct messages on social media. Panels, webinars, and interviews are great ways to provide information about the causes you partner with to your customers and potential supporters while also launching or spreading the word about ways to help them and your own corporate partnership,

4. Learn From Previous Endeavors

If you have done some cause marketing before, review your past activities and performance. If you haven’t, be prepared to carefully track performance this time so that you can learn from the results. First, make a list of all touchpoints you utilize (point of sale at register, table tents, ecommerce checkout, email newsletters, website footer and/or Community page, social media posts, etc.) and methods of promotion so you can track each metric separately. Some main key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help you gauge your standing are:

  • Followers, impressions, and engagement on social media
  • Email click-through rate
  • Attributable leads
  • Customer acquisition rate (pre- and post campaign launch)
  • Loyalty metrics
  • Ultimate ROI for your business
Once you’ve determined the areas you want to focus on for your next campaign, you can tailor your outreach strategy to target them. You should also ensure your nonprofit partner carefully tracks the results of the campaign, too, so that you can promote the success – totals raised, fundraising conversion rate, social media reach and engagement growth, event attendees, and more. Work with your nonprofit partner to pinpoint their desired improvement areas and combine this into your strategy for a holistic cause marketing plan.

Wrapping Up: Elements of a Successful Corporate Philanthropy Campaign

Before you jump into implementing new CSR partnerships, take some time to review the fundamentals. They are:

  • Helpful software solutions. When planning a CSR partnership, you might find it difficult to find organizations that feel aligned enough to commit to a campaign. Like dating, this is where a corporate giving and matchmaking platform can help. It may take some exploration and many smaller test partnerships of giving back to find the best partners to work with.
  • Equal participation. While your nonprofit partner will primarily be the one delivering the funded programming and resources themselves, you both need to be committed to the campaign. Be sure to regularly touch base with your counterpart to assess roles and responsibilities and check in regarding progress.
  • Shared values and interests. It may help to do a poll with your most active and loyal customers to find out what causes they support and why, with the goal of discovering organizations that are a natural fit with your target market and like-minded. Take time to do your research on leadership backgrounds, recent news, frequency of their events and public activities, and influencers/reach to assess suitability and that candidates are organizations whose efforts and reputations you would like to be associated with.
  • Diverse forms of support. Your business can provide more than financial support to your nonprofit partners. Aside from volunteering and pro bono work, in-kind donations such as supplies, equipment, unique experiences, and your products and services can be just as valuable, if not more so, than cash. These gifts may also be considered charitable contributions, making them potentially tax-deductible.

Ultimately, the most effective cause marketing efforts will highlight a true partnership between organizations and a sincere passion for community impact, and being open to different causes can be more inclusive. To get started, we recommend using a corporate matchmaking platform to research and meet potential new partners to work together on transforming your community for the better.

Learn more about how Charity Dynamics can help Peer-to-Peer Fundraising fit into your strategic plan