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National versus Local Company Cause Partnerships

Ideally, you want to find a way to partner with both national and local companies in your cause marketing. But you need to know the pros and cons of each type.

If you’re working with national retailer, you may face these challenges:

  • A longer decision-making process: The local manager doesn’t always have the final say; the corporate office does. And that office may be halfway across the country or halfway around the world.

  • A disconnect with your cause in different parts of the country: If you are a Seattle-based nonprofit that serves the Pacific Northwest, will shoppers in Florida support your cause? Will you have to customize your cause marketing materials for different regions? The following illustration shows how nonprofits from different areas can work together to raise money with cause marketing.

    Laws govern interstate cause marketing. Be sure that you know the laws for your state and for any state you plan to launch a program in. Just because you’re doing something for a good cause doesn’t give you cause to break the law.

    This pinup was sold in Florida.
    This pinup was sold in Florida.
  • Difficulty coordinating program kick off: It might not be in the budget to fly to a dozen cities to kick-off a pinup program. You will most likely rely on the district managers in those cities to execute the program on your behalf.

    Are you prepared to hand over the reins of your success to someone else? You probably won’t have to worry about these issues with local companies, but they have their own unique challenges. Here are three common ones:

    • Local businesses are late-comers to cause marketing. While many national companies have been doing cause marketing for years, local businesses are just now gearing up to participate. So while you don’t have a chain of command to climb like you do at national companies, you do face a longer learning curve.

    • They don’t have the footprint national companies do. Your success hinges largely on the number of locations and the foot traffic at those stores. You can do cause marketing with companies of any size, but the best opportunities are found by partnering with the largest local companies in your area.

    • They don’t always have the operational infrastructure to ensure a smooth program. Years ago all the supplies for a cause marketing campaign were delivered in person and cashiers kept track of donations by putting them in an envelope under the register drawer. Now cause marketing materials are drop-shipped and scanned into stores like any other store item.

    Still, some local businesses will expect you to drop off pinups, and they’ll keep track of donations in an envelope. This type of old school program can work, but logistical demands must be weighed carefully.

Your goal is to work with both national and local companies that will help you execute successful cause marketing programs.

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