by Paula Dezzutti Hewlette
Cause Marketing is marketing for the primary benefit of social or charitable causes. When expanded to Cause Commerce, every commercial transaction supports that cause with revenue. It creates a relationship that bridges commerce and cause in ways that benefits both parties and creates compelling, almost unbreakable bonds between all parties involved. The first known case of cause marketing in America was in March, 1974 when Carr & Associates International was formed by John T. Carr as a way of "giving back" by engaging Charitable Causes and Businesses to support each other. The organization was promoted by John T. Carr's focus on enlisting businesses to give back referral fees on what they might normally spend for marketing; and having those funds redirected toward the Charitable Cause of the buyer's choice.
Cause-related marketing possibilities came up quickly even though it was a relatively young concept. It exploded, on a national scale, in the early 1980s when American Express joined with the nonprofit group that was raising funds to restore the Statue of Liberty. The results are now legendary: the Restoration Fund raised over $1.75 million and American Express card transactions rose 28%. New card applications increased 45% over the previous year. And new users increased 17%. All this was accomplished within a three-month campaign.
Cause Marketing is not charity. It is so much more than writing a check. It is not just selling a product or service to someone. And it’s not going away anytime soon! Your clients and customers are buying into your brand’s values and how you are going to help support their own needs and values within your organization. When you combine the cooperative efforts of for-profit organizations with non-profit social causes we can understand the not so surprising findings of the 2014 study of MSLGROUP Future of Business Citizenship : 69% of global millennials want businesses to make it easier for consumers to get involved in societal issues. This trend is not going away. Here are some key items to consider for challenging your brand to be at its best: