Back to school isn’t just for the kids. With September here it’s time for all of us to sharpen the saw on cause marketing initiatives that do good and teach. Here are four programs that are like a good teacher: thoughtful, smart and inspiring.
RADIO SHACK & CALL2RECYCLE
Technology is a big part of going back to school. But what’s often missed is that all these tablets, smartphones and laptops have rechargeable batteries that end up in landfills, where they can leak and pollute the soil and groundwater.
That’s why Radio Shack and Call2Recyle are teaming up for battery collection centers at The Shack. Last year, Radio Shack recycled five million pounds of batteries, making them the largest retailer for recycling rechargeable batteries. Staples, Home Depot, Best Buy and Lowe’s have also supported the program.
Takeaway Lesson: Cause marketing programs don’t have to be sexy. It’s about doing the right thing and for that Radio Shack deserves an A+.
HAIR CUTTERY & MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN & FAMILIES
A lot of back to school cause marketing focuses on much needed school supplies for the classroom. These are important, but so is a confident student that looks and feels her best. That’s the mission behind the Hair Cuttery’s Share a Haircut program. This is a nationwide program, but I saw it in action here in Massachusetts where the nation’s largest family-owned chain of hair salons partnered with the Mass Department of Children & Families.
Through August, for every paid child’s hair cut, sixteen locations provided a free cut to a disadvantaged kid.
Takeaway Lesson: Nonprofits aren’t the only organizations with aspirational goals. Hardware stores want to make things easier. Pet stores offer companionship. Bakeries want to tantalize your taste buds. Your cause marketing program shouldn’t just tap what they do (e.g. Sell dogs and cats). It should also capture the difference they’re trying to make in the world.
DOLLAR TREE & OPERATION HOMEFRONT
Having a parent overseas in the military is hard on a child, especially on birthdays or over the holidays. But for kids, back-to-school is an important time too. And Dollar Tree is leaving no child behind with its Back to School Brigade in cooperation with Operation Homefront. In August, Dollar Tree had specially marked collection boxes for shoppers to donate school supplies.
Last year, shoppers donated $3 million in school supplies at 4,000 Dollar Tree stores.
Takeaway Lesson: Focus on where the need is. It’s nice to help during the holidays when the need is most visible, but there are other times when kids need help. It could be when they’re heading off to camp, or when the weather turns cold, or, as we see with the Back to School Brigade, when they head back to school.
BON-TON STORES & STOMP OUT BULLYING
An unfortunate part of going back to school is that the bullies go back too. Recent statistics show that 1 in 4 kids are bullied. That’s why Bon-Ton Stores has created Blue Shirt Day, a day of solidarity in support of STOMP Out Bullying. Celebrated the first Monday of October, Bon-Ton has a blue shirt on salefor $12 with $8 going to STOMP.
Takeaway Lesson: Bullying is one of those things we don’t want to think about. It’s sad and disgraceful – but it happens. That’s why it’s admirable when companies tackle a tough issue. Consumers will take note.