Monday, June 15, 2009

Fundraising: Cause Marketing

Happy Monday faithful readers! I apologize for the radio silence, I've been dedicating all my time recently to fundraising in order to try to keep our program afloat during this difficult time. However during this time I've found out about a couple things that are worth sharing that both have something to do with...surprise...FUNDRAISING!

So, in my quest to encourage people who support our program to reach into their personal networks and tell the story about what we do to potential donors, I've found that people rarely understand the true ability of their networks to help organizations such as ours. So many times, I find myself explaining that being a mentor is not the only way to help our program make a difference in the lives of inner-city kids and that especially at this juncture, securing the financial resources we need to sustain our program in the short term is perhaps more important. One way I've been trying to get people to support our program is through identifying fundraising opportunities at their workplaces, either through corporate foundations, employee-matching funds or internal giving campaigns. Since the decision to give or not to give is so-often dependent upon personal relationships between the grantor and the grantee, which unfortunately I often find myself lacking, we have had some success using our volunteers and others as middlemen/representatives of our cause to approach their superiors and put a familiar face on our requests for financial support. However, though we try our best to impart on our volunteers a through understanding of their ability to help fundraise and build other resources for our organization, we understand that as volunteer mentors, they are already giving their time and that not everyone is willing to go the extra mile and become an evangelist for our cause at work and in their day-to-day lives. For this reason I was extremely excited to discover that there exists a whole job field dedicated to bridging this gap between non-profit organizations and for-profit companies for their mutual benefit. These people are called cause marketers and according to the journal On Philanthropy, cause marketing sponsorship by American companies is growing at a rapid rate. For example last year 1.52 billion dollars was spent by American companies on cause marketing campaigns.

To make this more concrete, a 2006 study demonstrated that 89% of young American consumers would switch brands of a similar product if a different brand was identified as supporting a "good cause". Additionally this same study found that a majority of people would prefer to work for a company that is considered to be "socially responsible". Based on this and other research with similar findings, companies have been expanding workplace giving programs and "cause-based marketing" in order to retain employees and build market share, while also supporting non-profit organizations that are doing good. One example of a cause-based marketing campaign would be our ongoing "One Dime At A Time" campaign at Chicago-Area Whole Foods stores where if customers bring their own bags, Whole Foods will donate 10 cents to our organization.

Campaigns like these are designed to not only bring valuable dollars to non-profits like ours, but to increase awareness about our program, while at the same time providing Whole Foods with positive public relations, improved customer relations and additional marketing opportunities (because we are also publicizing the campaign). I'll be expanding on this idea throughout the week discussing cause-based marketing more in depth, and our past, present and future experiences with it. Stay Tuned!

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