“Ins and Outs of Cause-Related Marketing.” By Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator interviews Sheila Brown, Director of Development and Special Projects of Breast Cancer Fund, Robbie Finke Franklin, Director of Marketing for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and Jean A. Sachs, CEO of Living Beyond Breast Cancer about how corporations and breast cancer charities partner to generate charitable funds and awareness for the Cause.

Key questions include:

  1. How do the relationships typically occur? Do the companies approach your charity or do you go after the companies with which you want to partner?
  2. In recent years, consumers have become more skeptical of these relationships and question the authentic nature of the partnerships. How does your charity determine if a company or product is a good fit? Have you ever said no?
  3. Once you agree to work with a product/ firm, what are your ground rules for engagement? For example, do you require a certain level of donations before you will permit the company to use your name/ logo? What do you require in terms of disclosure about the partnership on the product’s packaging?
  4. How do you define success and can you provide an example of a successful campaign?
  5. On the flip side, when and why has a campaign failed?
  6. What do you think of campaigns that have caps on the level of money the firm will give? For example, sometimes a campaign may specify that the corporation will give $1 per purchase up until 500 items are purchased. In this scenario, the 501 customer’s purchase does not contribute to the charity’s bottom line and the customer has no way of knowing that.
  7. What do you know about the consumers who purchase a product affiliated with your charity? Do they tend to be existing donors or are they likely to become a donor after the purchase?
  8. How concerned are you that the consumers see these purchases as a substitute for direct donations to your charity?
  9. Charities aren’t required to specifically disclose how much money they generate via cause-related marketing projects. And this lack of transparency is an ongoing source of disappointment to consumers who want to better understand the importance of these partnerships (does their purchase of a pink piece of candy really make a difference) and academics who are interested in trends. So, in the interest of full disclosure, will you tell us what percentage of your annual revenue is derived from cause-related marketing? How has this changed in the last 5 or 10 years? And where do you see it trending in the future?
  10.  What do you think is the biggest misconception about cause-related marketing that you want to clear up for donors/ customers?
  11. Are there some generally agreed upon best practices in the nonprofit sector for engaging in cause related marketing relationships? If so, please outline them and where a donor might find them on the internet.
  12. Are you aware of any third party, non-governmental entity in existence, to monitor whether or not groups are following such best practices? If not, would you support and help to finance the creation of such an organization or the creation of a new division within an existing organization to monitor such cause related marketing relationships?
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