Why Should I do a Cause Marketing Agreement with You?

Why Should I do a Cause Marketing Agreement with You?

Cause marketing is on the upswing again. More and more charities are trying to focus on bringing in cause marketing partners. Many businesses are looking at cause marketing as a viable marketing channel in their sponsorship portfolio. Whether you are the charity (cause) or the marketer (sponsor/brand), you need to understand cause marketing first.

On our Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists® we define cause marketing.

A type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a “for profit” business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. The term is sometimes used more broadly and generally to refer to any type of marketing effort for social and other charitable causes, including in-house marketing efforts by non-profit organizations. Cause marketing generally includes an offer by the sponsor to make a donation to the cause with purchase of its product or service. Cause marketing differs from corporate giving (philanthropy) as the latter generally involves a specific donation that is tax deductible, while cause-marketing is a business expense and is expected to show a return on investment.

As a charity, you need to understand that you are the “cause” side of the agreement.  The sponsor is typically the “marketing” side of the partnership. Each of you has roles and responsibilities, many of which cross over, but as a charity or non-profit, you must ensure the sponsor provides the “marketing.” Too often, I see where a sponsor agrees to pay, say, $1 for each unit sold. They then make point-of-sale materials and post on their website that they are associated with ABC charity. Unfortunately, there is no drive to sell the product—no real marketing plan or execution. So, in the end, instead of selling 10,000 units and providing $10,000 in return, they only sell 100 units and the charity only gets $100. But the sponsor has used the charity’s brand to give the impression that they are supporting them when they really are not. If the brand/sponsor does not market the product that will deliver the revenue, then it is not a fair deal. (We actually ensure our clients get a guarantee against the use of their brands as a minimum.)

This is not to say that all of the marketing onus lies with the brand/sponsor. You, the charity, have a responsibility to reach out to your audience members and invite them to purchase the product as well.

Several years back my friend and industry colleague Christi Cruz sent me a great link and article about “The three questions every business should ask before entering into a cause marketing agreement.” And it is so very true. It is succinct, realistic, and bang on. (Thanks Christi for sharing with me so that I can share with the TMC audience.)

In this terrific article posted on the Selfish Giving blog and website, they cite the following three questions that must be asked by a business before it does a cause marketing deal (or for that matter, any sponsorship deal).

Charities—read these, understand them, and don’t be offended when you are asked. This is a business transaction and not a donation!

  1. How will my business benefit from this partnership?
  2. How will you support our partnership?
  3. Why should I work with you rather than your competition?

To read the full article and more, be sure to visit the Selfish Giving website and blog page.

Also note… the charity can also be asking these three questions of their brand partner!!!

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  1. Thanks Brent and Christi.
    These 3 questions are very relevant, and in my experience, often completely overlooked. Having strong answers (as a charity), may lead to a new sponsor!

  2. You nailed it Josh. If they can answer these correctly… they are pretty much assured a partnership!!


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