Cause-Related Marketing: Support or Scam?

Cause-related marketing campaigns seem like a win-win situation. Consumers and businesses help support wonderful causes while the benefiting organizations raise much-needed funds. Do they really make a difference though?

As in most cases, cause-related marketing brings both good and bad. As a consumer, you can ask a few questions to ensure you really are supporting a great cause.

Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives program

Since 1997, Yoplait has donated more than $34 million to breast cancer awareness through the Save Lids to Save Lives program, Race for the Cure and other initiatives.
Photo courtesy of Miss a Liss via Flickr

1) Is the cause meaningful to you? Do you believe in this organization and its mission? Target causes that you truly believe in and are close to your heart.

2) Who does the campaign benefit? Make sure that your purchase will support a reputable organization that will put the funds raised to good use. Charity Navigator is one place to check out nonprofit organizations that you’re not familiar with.

3) How is the program structured? Understand exactly how the charity will benefit through consumers’ purchases. For example, the sponsor may make a donation per purchase. Is the amount stated (i.e. 2% vs. 10%)? Is there a limit on the sponsoring company’s donation (i.e. first $100,000 raised)? Or is there a minimum amount to be raised before the company makes any donation?

4) How will the charity use the donated funds? Nonprofit organizations should be very clear on where their funds go, whether it be research, education, assisting those affected by their cause, administrative costs, etc.

5) Is the sponsoring company committed to the cause? If you’re not familiar with the company, review the packaging, display, in-store signage and/or literature for more information on its goals. Does it regularly support this cause? Does the company seem committed to making a difference?

Cause-related marketing programs can be a tremendous asset to nonprofit organizations or they can really be a scam. Do a little research to ensure that you are actually helping a worthy cause and that your hard-earned money wouldn’t be better spent.

For additional information:
Changing with the Times (MediaPost looks at what causes are hot in 2012.)
Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives Program
Charity Navigator
Best Practices for Taking Up the Cause

Happy Boss’ Day to all of the great leaders out there!

Jaime