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Branding is Key to Successful Cause Marketing

Powerful cause marketing brands are like magnets. They do good things, and good things are in turn attracted to them. Take national causes like Feeding America, Product (RED), UNICEF, and Children’s Miracle Network. They do great work, and companies flock to partner with them (just as causes flock to powerful business brands like New Balance, Starbucks, and Walmart and flood them with requests and proposals).

Product (RED) has raised over $150 million for the Global Fund HIV and AIDS programs through cause
Product (RED) has raised over $150 million for the Global Fund HIV and AIDS programs through cause marketing since 2006.

You’ve probably witnessed the brand power of certain causes and companies from afar because your nonprofit doesn’t have the same magnetic pull. Your mission may be just as worthy as any other cause, but it’s hidden by a cloak and anonymity and irrelevance that’s deadly to causes.

Branding is what you experience — what you feel —when you come into contact with someone’s product or service. For example, when you see a Zipcar (a car sharing company), your thoughts turn to urban-eco-hipsters. When you buy the latest Apple iPhone, you feel like a trendy geek.

Good brands, whether for-profit or nonprofit, generate strong, visceral energy that’s as strong and addictive as any coffee. With a stronger brand, you’ll have a better and bigger cause marketing program.

Plenty of causes that raise a lot of money without cause marketing don’t have well-known brands. All causes that are successful with large-scale cause marketing initiatives that aren’t also well-known brands. Great brands do great cause marketing, and great cause marketing goes hand in hand with great brands.

How do you create that brand? Jeff Brooks of the Future Fundraising Now blog has a suggestion:

“Instead of a look-at-me brand, it’s a look-at-you brand. It recognizes that donors give to make good things happen, not to support an organization. Instead of promising to be the coolest charity on the block, it promises a fulfilling, information-rich experience that will maximize the donor’s impact.”

The advantages of such an approach are two-fold. First, as a cause you’ll have a lot more impact. Second, supporters will see the difference you’re making clearly and dramatically.

Jeff’s suggestion is a great one for causes as it addresses the need to create and communicate a powerful experience for the donor that generates an equally powerful response.

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