How to Find a Partner for Your Cause Marketing Program - dummies

How to Find a Partner for Your Cause Marketing Program

By Joe Waters, Joanna MacDonald

Part of Cause Marketing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Every cause marketing program needs a partner. People sometimes point to companies that have social missions (for example, TOM Shoes) and call them cause marketing. Others use the term to describe a nonprofit that runs its own business (for example, Goodwill’s retail stores). But without a partner, you don’t have cause marketing.

If you’re a cause looking for a business partner, here are some questions to ask:

  • Does the company support other causes? You may think you want to partner with a company that’s never worked with a cause. You’ll have them all to yourself! But that company probably doesn’t support causes for a reason: It doesn’t want to. Oftentimes, a company that supports causes is open to supporting more, especially when you’re bringing something new like cause marketing to the table. Go where you are wanted.

  • Is the company a “good” business? Causes engage in cause marketing to support their missions, not to hurt them. Partnering with a company that has a poor reputation in the community or questionable business practices only hurts your cause. Your cause needs cause marketing, not crisis communication.

  • Does your cause and the business share a natural connection? What’s a better fit for a toy store — a cause that supports children with HIV/AIDS or a local historical preservation group? When a cause and company’s mission intersect, it’s a perfect partnership!

If you’re a company in search of a cause to partner with, use these criteria:

  • A cause that gets it: Executing a cause marketing program with a cause that knows nothing about cause marketing is difficult. A good grasp of public relations and some experience with the marketing of causes, corporate philanthropy, and sponsorship can tip the scales to success.

  • A cause that understands technology and social media: Mobile and social media will play a key role in the future of the transactional cause marketing. To capitalize on the benefits cause marketing has to offer, choose a nonprofit that is proficient in social media.

  • A cause that isn’t cause-centric: It’s funny that some profess to be all about others but never stop talking about themselves. If your prospective nonprofit partner shows little interest in you and cares only about picking up a check, it’s best to look elsewhere.