Partners for Cause Marketing

Busyness [Photo by flgr] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Nonprofits looking for a cause marketing partner are advised to ask some basic questions to help determine the best match. First of all, you should find out whether the company you are considering supports other nonprofits as well. If they don’t support any other causes, it’s probably an indication that they don’t want to. Many companies that are open to supporting one cause will be open to supporting similar causes, especially if you bring a great cause marketing campaign idea to the table.

Another thing you will want to figure out about a potential partner is whether the company you are considering conducts their business in an ethical way. If you partner with a company that has a poor reputation for any reason, this can taint your cause and actually damage your reputation as well. You should also consider whether your cause and a potential partner’s business are a natural fit.

The first step in finding a cause marketing partner should be to gather your team and conduct an inventory of your organizational assets which would benefit a potential partner. These include both tangible and intangible assets like goodwill, reputation, digital media assets, technical and specialized knowledge, compelling stories, a popular website, busy facility, social media presence, existing relationships with key members of the community, credibility with a target audience and more.

partnership agreement [Photo by o5com] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The next step is to develop a set of internal policies before you begin to seek out potential partners in the corporate world. These policies should lay out in very clear terms what your organization’s role will be in any cause marketing campaign. Similarly, if you are a company that is searching for a nonprofit to partner with in a cause marketing campaign you should also establish a set of criteria against which you can measure potential partners. Companies will benefit most from partnering with a cause that knows something about cause marketing.

Executing an effective campaign with a partner that is clueless about cause marketing will cause more difficulties, so causes with a good grasp of PR and experience with cause marketing, sponsorship and philanthropy are desirable. Companies should also seek out causes which have a good grasp of social media and related technologies. This is because these technologies play a large role in cause marketing today and allow partners to gain more benefits from their campaign.

At its best, a good cause marketing campaign will create a win win result for both the non profit and the company involved. Benefits to the company include enhanced reputation in the community, improvement of their surrounding environment, and enhanced good will with their customers. It has been shown that most consumers will switch brands if an alternative is supporting a good cause, and this is most true with women and younger people.

Once you have selected some potential partners for your campaign, you may run into obstacles in selling the cause marketing idea to these potential partners and to those within your own organization as well. Learning how to price or value the cause marketing program and then communicate this effectively to all stakeholders can overcome this sticking point.