The beginning of the new year is always a good time to evaluate what is and isn’t working for you. Is cause marketing – win-win partnerships between nonprofits and businesses – a strategy that’s not working for you? We can help!
Here are the top five reasons your cause marketing isn’t working, and what you need to do to finish 2015 with a bang instead of a whimper.
NOT WORKING: HAVING UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ABOUT CAUSE MARKETING.
When asked by organizations, I estimate that cause marketing can raise an additional 5 to 15 percent in additional revenue for your nonprofit. So, if you are a $3 million nonprofit, you’ll raise approximately $300,000 from an established program. You might raise a little more, maybe less. But if you’re expecting to double your revenues with cause marketing you should expect to be disappointed. Still, cause marketing is a great way to add to your fundraising mix.
NOT WORKING: BELIEVING THAT CAUSE MARKETING CAN BUILD BRAND. I tried. It doesn’t work. It may work for the St. Jude’s and Product (RED)’s of the world, but everything seems to work for them, right? I now believe that instead of building brand, cause marketing reflects it. Nonprofits need to be satisfied that cause marketing is good at building awareness and raising money, but not at building brand. Nevertheless, brand is critical to the success of cause marketing and building it with other tools must be your number one priority.
NOT WORKING: WASTING YOUR TIME ON “CREATIVE” IDEAS. I love interesting cause marketing ideas. But they’re useless without a partner to execute them. Without a business partner, you’re standing at home plate dreaming of a home run. With a partner, you’re steaming around third base and heading for home! Focus on recruiting new business partners to work with. Once you evaluate their assets and interests you’ll know exactly what type of cause marketing will work best for them.
NOT WORKING: ASSUMING YOUR CURRENT PARTNERS ARE YOUR “FOREVER PARTNERS.” In pet adoption, people talk about finding a dog or cat their “forever home.” But in cause marketing there are few if any “forever partners.” Some partners are good, long-term friends and others are fair weather friends. The latter is fine as long as you don’t confuse them with the former. Some cause marketing partners will stick with you for a year or two and then they’ll move on to something else, maybe another cause. That’s part of life and working in cause marketing. Friends are great, but know who your true friends are and never stop making new ones.
NOT WORKING: DENYING THAT YOU NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP. I’ve been doing cause marketing for twenty years and have seen firsthand the repercussions of go-it-alone cause marketing. Sure it’s free. Free like a puppy. It’s a lot of work and requires effort, patience and resources. Nonprofits that are serious about raising money from businesses shouldn’t run out and hire a full-time cause marketer. They should consider hiring cause experts to get them started in the right direction. A third-party perspective could be invaluable as you evaluate the cause marketing landscape. Initially, it may cost more money, but you’ll see better results and ultimately raise more money, which will offset the expense. Good luck with your cause marketing goals in 2015. As always, we’re here to help.