BG US Challenge and St. Jude Childen's Research Hospital

A Business to Business Cause-Related Marketing Campaign that Brings Money & ROI... Part I

I’ve written before about what we at Alden Keene & Associates call B2B Cause-Related Marketing©. That is, cause marketing that takes place between businesses rather than between business and consumers.

B2B Cause-Related Marketing can be more challenging because of the issue of money. It’s relatively easy for a cause marketer to put together a CRM campaign with a physical good that’s sold to a consumer. But where does the money come from in when the CRM exchange takes place between two businesses?

Memphis-based St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is currently running a dynamite B2B Cause-Related Marketing campaign that turns the standard walk-a-thon on its ear. And it does so while building corporate teams and affinity between corporate America and St. Jude. It’s called the BG US Challenge. You may have seen the ad above for the Challenge in Fortune magazine.

I spoke last week with Holly Thompson… the Liaison-Sports Marketing & Sponsor Development, and the person in charge of the BG US Challenge at St Jude… about how St. Jude got involved with a cause campaign that offers participants honest-to-Pete ROI.

I can’t think of even one of the countless x-a-thons that could claim the same.

What follows are my questions along with Holly’s responses. Let me hasten to add that the answers below are my paraphrases of her, NOT direct quotes.

For reasons of length, I’ll spit the post between today and Thursday.

Give me some history. How did St. Jude get involved and what is the nature of your involvement?

Late in 2004 the Challenger World, an event production company out of the UK recently purchased by IMG, approached a number of US nonprofits looking for a partner. Challenge events had been successful in the UK and Europe for 10 years and they were looking to expand into the US and wanted a charity partner that could complement their brand and whose mission included serving children. We turned out to be perhaps more than they hoped for. We raised $250,000 the first year, $650,000 last year and we anticipate topping $1 million this year.
Companies sign up as team. We receive the registration information and we
contact and help the individual team members set up customized websites. The websites, developed by our internal IT staff along with Convio, come with a list of tools; a fundraising contact management system, marketing materials and collateral,
press releases, a blog, newsletter, etc. Pledges can be fulfilled directly through the websites.
What are your goals for your participation? Is it just fundraising or do you fee like you get more than that out of participation?

Our principal goal is fundraising. But the BG US Challenge has served as a
springboard to other types of fundraising for us. Some of the teams have
approached us and expressed interest in employee-giving, which is very easy
to do. That said, we haven’t pushed any participating team very hard…
after all they may have just raised $100,000 for us and we don’t want to seem as if we’re going to the well too often. We also have the capacity to track gifts and we know that 100 people who have made pledges through the BG US Challenge have also made additional gifts to St. Jude above and beyond their pledges.

One of the reasons we feel confident that we’ll top $1 million this year is that
after the BG US Challenge last year the Vice President of Corporate affairs for BG in the United States asked how much it cost to run St. Jude for one day. We told him it
was $1.2 million and he said he wanted to do that.

On Thursday -- how the BG US Challenge builds ROI for corporate teams while raising money for St. Jude.

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