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Joanne Fritz

Is Your Cause Marketing Program Legal, Transparent and Trustworthy?

By April 24, 2012

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Checklist for your cause marketing program.

Everyone wants to jump on the cause marketing bandwagon these days, and it is a great way for many nonprofits, even smaller local ones, to develop more revenue, publicize their cause, and build great relationships with businesses.

But cause marketing also has a lot of fine print attached. There are best practices, and even legal necessities, for doing it right, not to mention making sure that consumers can actually trust it.

Although your organization may put a lot of thought into those cause marketing programs that you initiate and find partners for, what about those incoming requests from businesses that want to partner with you? It might be a local grocer that would like to use your logo and give back a donation, or a shopping mall that wants to include you in a promotion. How do you screen those quickly and efficiently?

One of the best pieces of advice for any nonprofit engaged in cause marketing, or thinking about it, comes from Gayle Gifford in her new book, Make Your Board Dramatically More Effective, Starting Today: A Board Member's Guide to Asking the Right Questions (Emerson & Church, 2012).

Gayle suggests that boards can save a lot of time and headaches for themselves and their staffs by setting up policies, instead of making decisions one issue at a time. The example Gayle uses is a cause marketing policy. Gayle writes:

"...a cause marketing policy would outline the conditions that must be met before any deal is acceptable (e.g., minimum dollar guarantees, agreed payment schedules, written contracts, use of your organization's name and logo, prohibited businesses or types of deals, and compliance with Better Business Bureau guidelines). Once in place, the next [cause marketing] offer can be accepted or rejected by the staff by applying this policy to it."

If you're not sure what all those terms, such as minimum dollar guarantees, mean, I recommend For Goodness Sake: Legal Regulation and Best Practices in the Field of Cause Marketing over at the Cause Marketing Forum. The article by attorney Edward B. Chansky will walk you through all the things you need to do to make sure your cause marketing program is ready to go. There are also links to other resources.

Does your organization have a board approved cause marketing policy in place? How do you handle cause marketing requests that come in over the transom, rather than being initiated by your organization?

Read more about cause marketing:

Photo: Getty Images

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