Forms of Cause Marketing: Purchasing, Licensing, and Message Promotion - dummies

Forms of Cause Marketing: Purchasing, Licensing, and Message Promotion

By Joe Waters, Joanna MacDonald

A partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit for mutual profit is called cause marketing. Three of the forms of cause marketing are purchasing-based donations, licensing and caused focused messaging.

Purchase or action-triggered donations

A purchase or action-triggered donation occurs when a consumer performs a particular action — donating a coat, liking a Facebook page, and so on — or purchases a product or service. In both instances, a donation is made to a cause. For example, when you buy the RED app for iPhone and iPod touch, Shazam contributes 20 percent from the $5.99 price tag to the Global Fund to invest in HIV/AIDS programs.



Licensing is when a company pays a fee to use a nonprofit’s brand on its product. Licensing typically includes a certification process by the nonprofit before the company is allowed to use the logo. A longstanding licensing pact is the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation for the Advil Caplets Easy Open Arthritis Cap.

Cause marketing licensing is practiced by only large causes with the iconic brands, such as Komen for the Cure and the American Heart Association. These well-established causes can drive consumer buying and have the legal teams to ensure that pacts are executed properly. Cause marketing licensing is not a realistic option for small companies and causes.


Message promotion

Message promotion is when a business puts its resources to work to promote a cause-focused message. For example, pet food company Iams recruited celebrity spokesperson Hilary Swank, a two-time academy award winner and the owner of two adopted dogs, for ads in support of the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter. Swank’s voice was used in a pair of moving public service announcements showing shelter dogs and cats bonding with their new owners. “The real reward in adopting a pet,” Swank says, “is when the pet adopts you.”

Sometimes message promotion is combined with a charitable gift. In the case of “Red, White & You” from New England Confectionary Company (NECCO), their print ad was combined with a $75,000 donation to the United Service Organizations (USO) and enough sweetheart candies for 3,000 care packages.