Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cause-related Marketing is on the Rise

While I was watching the Golden Globes last night, L'Oréal showed a series of commercials advertising their Women of Worth campaign, "a grassroots program and award that celebrates, recognizes and supports women who actively help others in their communities". You can nominate a "woman of worth" on their site between now and May 19th. One woman will be chosen from 7 US regions: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountains and Pacific. The winner will receive a $5,000 donation to the cause of their choice in their name, and a matching grant of $5,000 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in their name.

The site also includes a "get involved" page with a list of links to, "Ten Tips for Getting Involved in Your Community:

1. Research the causes or issues important to you.
2. Consider the skills you have to offer
3. Would you like to learn something new?
4. Combine your goals
5. Don't over-commit your schedule
6. Nonprofits may have questions, too.
7. Consider volunteering as a family.
8. Virtual volunteering?
9. I never thought of that!
10. Give voice to your heart through volunteering!

It occurred to me as they repeated this commercial during the night, and apparently it'll be shown again during the Academy Awards, that cause-related marketing is growing.

The Swedish clothing company, H&M, recently opened two stores in downtown San Francisco. I was looking on their web site for their addresses and was struck that one of the top menu options was, "H&M and UNICEF visit Cambodia." Apparently, H&M and UNICEF signed a three-year deal that includes, "an education project for girls in developing countries and a project to prevent the spread of HIV among young people in Cambodia."

This fall, St. John's Knits signed a deal with Angelina Jolie to be, "both the face of St. John the brand, as well as the voice behind a newly-formed charity created in support of children's causes."

I'm wondering if the big budget ad campaign and successful use of high profile celebrities by the ONE campaign, and the success of Live 8 has caused the growth or if it is still a reaction to the nation's conscious or unconscious post-September 11th reflection, "What really matters?" What I do find interesting is the investment in these causes by the corporations, rather than just the placement of their logo on a nonprofits' web site as a sponsor.

Obviously, the bottom line for corporations is to make a profit, but at least some good may come of this trend while it lasts.


  1. Last spring when the Y-Me Cancer organization was doing it's big event, the Chicago Tribune did a major story about choosing between the various breast cancer groups to determine who uses money best, or who gives the best return on a donation.

    They then went on with advise that said if you really want to solve a social problem, pick a cause, an agency, and stick with it for a long time.

    To me that's great advice.

    I lead the Tutor/Mentor Connection. At the http://msg.uc.iupui.edu/TMC/html/ T/MC web site I'm building a library of web links to tutor/mentor programs all over the country, and other sites that provide information on things tutor/mentor leaders can use as resources (home work help, arts ideas, fund raising, evaluation, general research, etc.)

    I added a link to http://www.ncrp.org/publications/index.asp recently, where there is a publication titled: not all grants are equal, which explores the debate on foundations providing project support versus operating support.

    I think this is related to the issues of getting donors involved in long-term problem solving and encourage you and others who blog philanthropy to talk about this, or point to other organizations who may be leading the discussion in this area.

    If we link enough sites and draw enough people together, maybe we can influence the way Baby Boomer donors dedicate their money to solving problems, even if we cannot change how the older foundations make giving decisions.

  2. Anonymous4:53 AM

    I think the great thing about corporate social responsability is that it means the consumer is demanding more from their corporation. On the part of the business, in most cases it is just another marketing strategy and I don't think it means capitalism is suddenly getting a conscience. It would seem consumers are more aware of their place in the world, and their impact on it, and they feel better about their shopping when they know their footprint is being slightly offset by some goodness in the world. Thanks for bringing up such an interesting topic.

  3. Joint fundraising and promotional programs between businesses and nonprofits, often referred to as cause-related marketing, have been on the rise. During the 1980s, many large corporations initiated cause-related marketing programs. Less is known, however, about how widespread cause-related marketing has become among medium-size companies. In the study of 478 medium-size businesses reported here, one-fifth made contributions to nonprofits as part of cause-related marketing programs, and more were becoming interested, but many of the businesses were dissatisfied with the effect of their contributions to nonprofits.
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