I understand why cause-related marketing charities have participation minimums or up-front fees. It’s a management issue. How do you manage a bunch of $10,000 (more or less) cause marketing campaigns? To a lesser degree it’s about keeping the cause's image in the main channels of the branding river.
But I’ve taken a lot of calls like this over the last 15 years, as a consultant and as a nonprofit executive and staffer, and it’s been frustrating almost every time.
I think it’s time for the big cause-related marketing charities to rethink their policies on participation minimums. And the thought-model I propose will be familiar to charity executives.
Think of the capital campaign donor pyramid.
In a nutshell here’s how capital campaigns typically work:
- You do a study to determine how much you could raise.
- You set the campaign fundraising goal.
- You build a pyramid with slots in it at each level. The top of the pyramid is the biggest gift. The base of the pyramid represents a lot of much smaller donations. Combined they equal the total campaign fundraising goal.
- You ask people for money.
Too many charities think of $10,000 cause marketing campaigns as nuisances. And they would be if you had to give them a lot of support. But smart charity managers ought to be able streamline their processes, invent some easy-to-adminster campaigns, use the power of the web to drive down costs, wave or eliminate up-front fees, and still be able to take a bunch of $10,000 checks from small cause-related marketing campaigns.
The economy in the U.S. right now has stalled. Charity cause marketers can't afford to leave money on the table.