The 3 Most Common Cause Marketing Questions

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I get lots of questions about cause marketing from nonprofits that are just getting started with the practice. Answering them isn’t always easy as everyone is at a different stage of development. However, here are three universal answers to three standard questions.

1. I’m a big fan of cause marketing, but others in my office, including my boss, knows nothing about it. How do I get them on board?

It starts by educating them about cause marketing, what it does and its value to your organization. Sharing some posts from my blog,, or Cause Marketing Forum would be a good start. I would also try to find examples from nonprofits that are of similar in size and mission. Persuasion occurs through identification. This means that the more your boss or colleagues can relate to what you’re talking about, and see the connection to your organization, the more likely you are to convince them to give cause marketing a try.

After education comes execution. Start with a test program that just involves one or two stores. That way you can see how the program works and you’ll have some results to share with colleagues.

2. I already have a company to work with, but I have no idea what to do with them. Can you help?

First, congrats on having a partner lined up. This is critical piece for cause marketing success! What kind of cause marketing program you choose depends a lot on what type of business you’re working with. If it’s a retailer, you’ll have lots of good options ranging from point-of-sale to purchase and action-triggered donations, etc. But what if your partner makes cardboard boxes? Lots of options there too, but you’ll need to be more creative. The key is to focus on assets: what does this box company have that can help you raise money? Can the boxes they make promote your organization? Can you tap their employees for volunteer opportunities? Since a box company works with all kinds of businesses, can they introduce you to a business-to-consumer company that would be willing to execute a cause marketing program.

3. My nonprofit has worked with lots companies but only on sponsorships, not cause marketing. How do I convert these partners to cause marketing?

Like cause marketing, sponsorship is win-win, both partners benefit. But with sponsorship the company writes a check and the nonprofit markets the business to their supporters. If a company buys a sponsorship at a nonprofit walk they get access to the walkers. But when a company embarks on a cause marketing promotion they market the nonprofit to their customers, employees and other stakeholders.

It’s important to understand the differences between sponsorship and cause marketing. Your goal as the nonprofit is to convince the company you’re not asking for more money. But you are asking them to do something else that will benefit both of you. Not every company will be willing to dive in so you might need to incentivize them. Maybe charging them a little less for the sponsorship, and gambling that you’ll raise more money with cause marketing. This isn’t as risky as you might think. Cause marketing almost always raises more money than a traditional sponsorship.

I could go on and on, but if you are a cause marketing newbie with a question, ask away!