Nonprofits: Harness the power of cause marketing

Not-for-profits with multiple sources of support generally are less likely to have budget shortfalls and are better able to grow and expand their services. If you’re looking for new funding sources, consider cause marketing. Made possible via a partnership with a for-profit business, cause marketing can boost your budget, your public profile and even your volunteer base.

Businesses and charities benefit

Cause marketing is different from a tax-deductible donation or corporate charitable giving program. When a cause marketing partner provides your organization with funds or services, it’s ideally rewarded with an enhanced public image, greater customer loyalty and other marketing advantages.

How do such partnerships benefit charities? With corporate financing and business expertise backing your nonprofit, you might be able to increase your visibility and educate new audiences about your cause. As members of the public become acquainted with your mission, you can probably expect your volunteer and donor ranks to grow. And new connections with your corporate partner’s customers, vendors, employees and other stakeholders can open up all kinds of avenues for growth.

Many forms

Cause marketing takes many forms. For example, transactional giving programs typically involve online platforms such as iGive and Browse for a Cause that enable shoppers to donate a dollar amount or percentage of each purchase to their chosen charities. Or donors may be able to convert customer-loyalty program rewards (such as airline miles) into cash contributions.

Another form is message promotion, where a company uses its resources to promote a cause-focused message — usually one related to its own products. For instance, Nissan’s truck campaign “Calling all Titans” featured a donation page to help people affected by Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Nissan also partnered with the American Red Cross and other organizations to discuss on Facebook how the public could help the hurricanes’ victims.

Licensing agreements are another option. A company may pay to use your not-for-profit’s name and branding on its products. Because these partnerships can have legal complications, they’re recommended for larger, more sophisticated nonprofits.

Choose carefully

If you decide that cause marketing makes sense for your organization, research potential partners and partnership forms. Unless your nonprofit has nationwide reach, it’s better to partner with a local business — preferably one that’s established and well known in your community.

Also, don’t forget to consider legal or tax consequences of a cause marketing partnership. An attorney and a CPA should thoroughly review any proposed agreement.

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