Cause marketing and cause alliances and CSR, oh my! Sometimes the plethora of cause terms can be scary!
These days, the term “cause marketing” is used to describe a wide variety of marketing promotions. Many think of cause marketing primarily as the practice of donating a portion of sales to a charity. According to Wikipedia, cause marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a “for profit” business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. I also like Cause Marketing Forum’s version: Cause marketing is a strategic marketing partnership that pairs a company or brand with a social cause or cause-related organization for mutual benefit. More great information is available in CMF’s CM101 pages.
To me, the main point is this – cause marketing is not strictly a share of proceeds program. Nor is cause marketing philanthropic, despite the value it brings society. Cause marketing is a strategic marketing partnership benefiting both partners. For the nonprofit, the benefits can be funding, awareness and building the donor pipeline. For corporations, the benefits include sales, awareness and building the consumer pipeline.
When I teach Cause Marketing 101, I like to use the cause industry definitions promoted by Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee in their book Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause.
- Corporate Cause Promotions: A corporation provides funds, in-kind contributions or other corporate resources to increase awareness and concern about a cause to support fundraising, participation or volunteer recruitment for a cause.
- Cause-Related Marketing: A corporation commits to donating a percentage of revenue to a cause based on product sales.
- Corporate Social Marketing: A corporation supports the development of a behavior change campaign intended to improve public health, safety, the environment or community well-being.
- Corporate Philanthropy: A corporation makes a direct contribution to a charity or a cause, most often in the form of cash grants, donations or in-kind services.
- Community Volunteering: A corporation supports and encourages employees, retail partners, and/or franchise members to volunteer their time to support causes.
- Socially Responsible Business Practices: A corporation adopts discretionary business practices that support social causes to improve health, safety and community well-being.
For Momentum also features a glossary of terms on our “About Cause Marketing” page. We feature definitions for additional terms being used in our industry such as strategic philanthropy, corporate relations and more. Of course, knowing the terminology is a great foundation, but the real success comes when utilizing these strategies in the right ways and with the right partners. We explore the keys to successful partnerships in the Best Practices section of our blog.