5 New Cause Marketing Ideas for Nonprofits

Photo courtesy of Cause Marketing Forum

Next week, I’m attending the annual Cause Marketing Forum Conference in Chicago. I’m giving several presentations. One is called 30 New Ideas in 60 Minutes.

According to the session description, this talk is all about helping nonprofits come up with new ways to work with corporate partners. That’s right up my alley! I’ll also be joined by two talented cause marketers: Public Inc.’s Paul Estey and Cause Marketing Forum’s own Megan Strand.

It should be an excellent session. After the conference, I’ll be sure to share the full list of 30 ideas. Until then, however, here’s a sample of five ideas.

1. Treat your B2B prospects like B2Cs

Too many fundraisers look at companies that are business-to-business as if they are completely different from business-to-consumer companies. But both types of companies are business-to-customer. This means that a popular B2C fundraiser like purchase-triggered donations can work for a B2B! And you won’t be taking a risk because others have tested the waters and found them to be fine.

My favorite example is TorkUSA’s napkin dispenser fundraiser for No Kid Hungry. If Tork can do it with napkins, you can fundraise with any company!

2. Supercharge Your Checkout Program with Customer Incentives

Point-of-sale programs at checkout registers are some of the most popular and successful cause marketing fundraisers. They raise hundreds of millions of dollars each year. But the best programs often include incentives for customers. This can be something free, a discount or a sheet of coupons. A great example of incentives at work is Shake Shack’s program for Share Our Strength.

Thanks to Shake Shack’s offer to reward each $2 donation with a free shake ($5 value), the small chain of burger stands has raised over $400,000 for Strength over the past two years. The chain’s goal this year is to raise $300,000!

3. Lead With the Best Point-of-Sale Tactic: Round-Ups

Shake Shack’s program involves pinups, just one of five point-of-sale strategies. (The other four our donation boxes, register programs, purchase-triggered donations and round-ups) And while pinups certainly work for Shake Shack, a round-up may be the best fundraiser of the five. The reason is simple. Because a round-up ask is always less than a dollar it’s very easy for customers to say yes. “Your total today is $11.25. Would you like to round-up your purchase to $12 and donate the $75 cents to the city’s food pantry?” Really, who wouldn’t say yes?

The key with a round-up is while you don’t make a lot of money from one person, you make a little from everyone. This can really add up! Ask the department store chain JC Penney. Despite struggling stores, JCP raises on average $1 million per month for its charity partners.

4. Target trade shows in your community

People think the same way about trade shows as they do about B2B companies. They assume that fundraising is not an option. But anytime you have a crowd of people and businesses you can raise money. You can sell pinups, have a raffle, sell an item, etc.

The key is to get connected with conference organizers and to convince them that a trade show can benefit from what every business prizes: a well deserved halo because of their work on behalf of a cause.

5. Pull in business support with content marketing

It’s nice to have creative strategies to present to business partners. But what about landing a business partner in the first place? Truthfully, that’s the hardest part of all! That’s why you need to become a magnet that pulls in companies. But how? Start by using social media networks to compellingly tell your nonprofit’s story. Next, create relevant content that is as useful and valuable as it is interesting.

While I stress online tools for content marketing, you can find plenty of offline examples as well. The team at Mount Vernon—the home of George Washington—is leverage a new TV show on spies during the American Revolution to offer spy training to visitors!