Non-profits must be careful with cause-related marketing

cause marketingEarlier in the year, I wrote a post titled “Bad cause-related marketing is offensive“. It was inspired by an incident when I was solicited at a cash register and the employee couldn’t tell me the first thing about the charity. They couldn’t even point me to a kiosk or brochure containing more information. A few weeks ago, I was confronted by a different situation that evoked a similar reaction and reinforced my strong belief that your agency needs to be careful (and diligent) when entering into cause-related marketing arrangements.

I’ve been playing chicken with my website provider recently. They’ve been sending me weekly reminders that I need to give them more money because their service will expire in two months. I’ve been really busy lately . . . so I’ve been ignoring and deleting those email reminders. However, they caught me in the right place at the right time a few weeks ago, and I ended up clicking through and renewing my agreement with them.

When I clicked the check-out button, they asked me if I wanted to “round-up my fee to the nearest dollar and donate that pocket change to  one of three charities they’ve partnered with“.

Unfortunately, I was going too fast and what I read versus what I “thought I read” was two very different things.

round up for charityThey wanted me to round my total up to the nearest dollar. What I thought I had read was that they would donate (out of their pocket) the amount of the rounded sum.  (You can see the screenshots of the information they provided me to the right of this paragraph)


The first thing that came to mind was Ben Franklin who famously said, “Haste makes waste.”

The second thing that came to mind was “Hey, wait a minute! That was vague and some people might even think a little deceptive. Moreover, who are these charities and how can I find out more about them?”

Needless to say, I started having a deja vu moment and finally realized that I blogged about this many months ago.

Bad cause-related marketing can have a negative impact on your brand. So, I have three simple requests of those of you reading today’s post:

  1. Please go back and read my previous post. It has some nice links to Joanne Fritz’s post on this subject, and hopefully it raises some thought-provoking discussions around your resource development committee table.
  2. Click here or on the Cause Marketing for Dummies graphic at the beginning of this post. I am a big fan of people who commit themselves to becoming a “lifelong learner“. Consider purchasing and reading the book if your agency is even giving a little consideration to jumping into a cause-related marketing venture.
  3. Read the few questions that I pose at the end of this post. Then scroll down and share a few thoughts with your fellow fundraising professionals. Why? Because we can all learn from each other!

Has your agency played around with any cause related marketing efforts? If so, what did you do? More importantly, what did you learn? What would you do differently?

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on July 10, 2013, in Fundraising, nonprofit, resource development and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Such a timely post for me! Your blogs always seem to remain so relevant to me. Thanks Erik

  1. Pingback: cause related marketing | Best Viral Tools

  2. Pingback: Cause related marketing saved Tina’s life | Donor Dreams Blog

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