3 Takeaways from the Cause Marketing Forum Conference


I’m not a big fan of conferences. I like to say that conferences are for people who don’t read. And I read a lot! I follow a lot of key people on Twitter. I have ongoing hashtag searches on terms like #causemarketing and #iot (Internet of Things) so I can follow the things that interest me. Finally, I subscribe to half a dozen email newsletters.

I’m good. Really.

The last thing I need is to travel a thousand miles, sit in a smelly cab, and pay for a hotel room only to have a conference speaker tell me something I already know!

But once a year, I make a point to attend one conference: the annual Cause Marketing Forum Conference in Chicago. It simply is a must-attend event. I get to meet and talk to the nation’s top cause marketers. And the conference is increasingly attracting international cause marketers. It’s two days of education and inspiration, and this year’s conference didn’t disappoint.

I came back with a boatload of knowledge. Here are three key insights.

Gaming for Good is Big Business

I’ve never understood the fascination with video games. I loved them when I was 12, but like my skateboard, I outgrew them. But maybe I need to give them another try because people are doing some serious good with them. Take the example of Children’s Miracle Network and its Extra Life fundraiser. 43,000 volunteers spent 25 hours playing video and board games to raise a total of $3,991,244 to help sick and injured kids. That’s gaming for good!

CMN CEO John Lauck shared the details of the fundraiser at the conference. John was on hand to receive CMF’s highest honor: a golden halo award.

On a separate note, I was blown away by how much money you can make off a successful video game. The latest version of the popular video game Grand Theft Auto made a billion dollars in three days!

Screenshot 2014-06-02 10.23.46

Video is Critical for Nonprofit Success

There was one presentation on cause video at the conference, but truthfully video was everywhere and discussed by everyone. In the breakout session, Cause Video Close UpAnn Erhard from MSLGROUP and Zachary Dominitz from Flow Nonfiction shared several brilliant cause videos. They also had a great reminder for cause marketers: video is not an island. You need storytelling, production, marketing, social media, etc. If you think you can make it happen all on a smartphone, well, you’re wrong.

I spoke with my friends from ConAgra Foods at the conference luncheon and they shared this wonderful, humorous cause video. Not all videos have to be serious and/or sad! Enjoy Five Things That Make Summertime Awesome.

You Can Learn a Lot from a Halo

Each year, Cause Marketing Forum honors companies and nonprofits for their excellence in cause marketing with Halo Awards. It’s a privilege to listen to these organizations discuss their partnerships and why they were successful.

It’s too late to hear from them in-person, but the Cause Marketing Forum website has all the winners and the story behind each partnership.

I hope you can join me at the next conference I go to. It will be the Cause Marketing Forum Conference in Chicago!