Skip to main content

Your Charity Should Be So Lucky

Recently both the Chicago Tribune and the Chronicle of Philanthropy (registration required for both) have published stories critical of cause-related marketing.

The Tribune article, by Blythe Bernhard (free here), came at the end of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the States. She mentions products that carry a breast cancer cause-theme: KitchenAid, tweezers, Serta mattresses, Quilted Northern toilet tissue (illustration is from October 2005), and others. And, she makes it clear that these promotions can be effective at moving product off the shelves.

But she also derides a promotion by 3M in 2004. The company spent $500,000 putting up a 7-story pink ribbon, made of Post-It notes, in New York City's Times Square. 3M also made a $300,000 donation to a breast cancer charity. The implication is that all $800,000 should have all gone to a worthy charity rather than frittering away 5/8ths of it on a cheap publicity stunt.

If it was my charity I'd want all $800,000. But I'd be darn happy with $300,000 and a publicity stunt that's worth at least two or three times what 3M paid for it.

Your charity should be so lucky to have a sponsor willing to give money as well as invest so heavily in publicity or advertising.

Bernhard also quotes Samantha King, author of "Pink Ribbons Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy" and an associate professor of women's studies at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, as saying, "As long as people think that by buying something they can help solve the breast cancer problem, they're being misled," she says. "If we could shop into a cure for breast cancer, it would be cured already."

Before I go on, I should declare my bona fides on the topic of cancer. My father died of cancer. My mother narrowly survived breast cancer. An older sister just finished chemo. Another sister survived kidney cancer. My mother's father and one of her sisters both died of leukemia. My mother-in-law is in the seventh year of a fight against cervical cancer.

When my dad was diagnosed, we were all but ashamed to say the word 'cancer' in polite company. There was a stigma attached to it. And, it was all but fatal back then. Now more than 30 years later, my mother-in-law's cancer is, in effect, a chronic disease like diabetes, or high blood pressure. There's no cure for her, just treatments. And while it goes without saying that the treatments are no picnic, she would say her life is nonetheless rewarding.

Some people are cured of cancer. Some die. Some people, like my mother-in-law, are in limbo. But after being attuned to the disease for more than 30 years, it's evident to me that the effort to find a complete and permanent cure is a long-term effort.

It seems that Professor King thinks the only role appropriate for us in the fight against cancer is as taxpayers or donors. That is, we should just turn over our tax money and donations to the clinicians and the researchers searching for cure. But whether as taxpayers or donors we all already do that, don't we?

I just don't see much wrong in also fighting cancer as consumers via cause-related marketing. The professor's probably right, the money generated from my purchase of Quilted Northern toilet tissue probably won't put the researchers over the top in their search for the cure. But I still need toilet paper. And if a few nickels go to help fund the fight, well bully!

As cause-related marketers we cannot abuse the trust of the public. Our cause-related marketing promotions must be transparent. If you're not building your cause-related marketing promotions that way, well then, send me examples so I can mock them in this blog.

But in my view, the real danger isn't that the public is being mislead by cause-related marketing. The real danger is that they won't be engaged in the fight against cancer or the improvement of some other social ill in any role besides as a taxpayer.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Breast Cancer symptoms
Common Breast Cancer Myths

The first myth pertaining to this disease is that it only affects women.

Second myth that is associated with this disease is that if one has found a lump during an examination, it is cancer.

Third is that it is solely hereditary

The next myth associated with breast cancer is downright ridiculous. Would you believe, that in this day and age, some individuals still think that breast cancer is contagious?

Conversely, some individuals foolishly believe that breast size determines whether or not one gets cancer.

Finally, another myth that is associated with this disease is that it only affects older people. This is not so. Although the chance of getting breast cancer increases with age, women as young as 18 have been diagnosed with the disease.

You can find a number of helpful informative articles on Breast Cancer symptoms at breast-cancer1.com

Breast Cancer symptoms

Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.


Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart... now in its thirtieth year... and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There's also a sponsor finding cost that…