83% of Americans Want Brands to Support Causes

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02.23.2012By

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Did you know that 83% of Americans say they wish brands would support causes, and 41% have bought a product because it was associated with a cause? Being generous is simply good business.

And for you as a fundraiser or nonprofit, getting a company behind your effort is only good sense. Finding a partner who gets the value of good and how it impacts their brand is the goal. With their help, you can extend promotion, garner matching grants, and achieve significant credibility with your donors. But to make it work you have to be smart and make it a win-win for your cause and their brand.

The first thing is to find a match between the company’s core audience and your cause. Right out of the gate, in AdAge’s American Consumer Project research analysis, millennials and moms both over-index on their support for cause-related marketing and their likelihood of trying brands that support causes they believe in. That means if your cause serves one of those two demographics, you’re going to have appeal for most consumer businesses.

The AdAge study brings up a good point: Make sure the brand cares about what your donors care about. Smart companies understand investing in customer relationships, and a social good initiative should be just that.

That means making sure the donor has room to speak freely, and choose multiple actions (for example donate, volunteer, advocate). Their actions should help the brand, but first and foremost provide value to the cause and to fulfill their desire to help. That’s how a win-win occurs.

When a brand dominates a cause marketing initiative, it can become suffocating and lose its long-term value. Donors see the cause marketing effort as a gimmick. In hindsight, Pepsi Refresh’s greatest victory–all of the impressions it created for the brand online–also turned into its detractor, creating a sea of criticism about turning nonprofits into losers that expended too much energy promoting Pepsi.

At the same time, as the fundraiser or the nonprofit you need to be prepared to help the brand market itself. That may include sharing email lists (publicly state this so the donor isn’t alarmed), co-branding the fundraiser, and sharing the media spotlight.

What do you think of cause marketing?