Nonprofits ask me all the time how to get started with cause marketing. Easy, I say, get a business partner. A partner is the main ingredient. You can't have a cause marketing program without a company!
But second to having a partner lined up is choosing the right cause marketing program for the partnership.
This can be challenging as different partners bring different opportunities and limitations. A coffee shop has lots of foot traffic, but they see many of the same customers day after day. A cause marketing program that involves an ask for a donation at the register quickly gets old, if not annoying, for customers. In short, you may need to use one or more different tactics to hit your fundraising goal.
That's not a problem, however, because I have five cause marketing programs for you to choose from. Use one or more for your next cause marketing program.
- Coin canisters.
This is a simple program that any business can do if they have lots of foot traffic from cash-paying customers. If you're just starting a cause marketing program with a business, this is an excellent first fundraiser. You can raise good money with coin canisters. I worked with a business that raised $25,000 in a little over a year with coin canisters!
Tip: Target busy stores where cash is king. A car dealership or jewelry store is not the right place for coin canisters.
Store cashiers sell pinups (or paper icons, as they are sometimes called) for a buck or two. We've all seen the paper Shamrocks hanging in stores for the Muscular Dystrophy Association around St. Patrick's Day. Pinups are by far the most lucrative cause marketing strategy. Local nonprofits can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars with pinups right in their own backyard.
Tip: Target businesses with lots of locations and foot traffic. The busier the location and the more stores involved the better the results.
- Purchase-triggered donations.
With this program a business donates a portion or percentage from the sale of product(s) to your cause. On World Aids Day, Starbucks donates five cents from the sale of every beverage sold to Product Red.
Tip: Because the customer is making a conscious, independent decision to buy the product and support the nonprofit, the nonprofit's name and work should resonate with consumers. In short, these programs are best for nonprofits with a higher profile or for urgent appeals.
- Shopping day.
Nonprofits located near a downtown shopping district should ask local stores to host a shopping day. On the special day, the businesses sell pinups and/or offer purchase-triggered donations. You can also create a shop walk with these stores. Shoppers raise money for your cause and get a special bag. When they show it in participating stores they get a discount.
Tip: It's important to activate the businesses on one day or over a weekend. This will make the program more fun and appealing for everyone. There is power in numbers.
- Facebook likes.
If you're looking for an online cause marketing program, try Facebook likes. Whenever someone "likes" your page on Facebook, a company makes a donation to your cause. Recently Houston-based Rice Epicurean Markets donated $1 for each Facebook like to an area cause; and Budlight went all Superbowl for with a dog rescue group.
Tip: This program is best for nonprofits that already have a large and engaged Facebook audience. This program is about raising money and making a big Facebook following even bigger.
You asked. I delivered. Now it's time to get busy with one of these cause marketing programs.