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Get Away Today Vacations and Credit Unions for Kids

How to Raise $1 Million for Charity Without Transparency

I have ranted frequently about the hazards of cause marketing without transparency.

But the fact is, there are plenty of campaigns that manage to be successful without much transparency. Plenty that still cling to the obsolete language, “a portion of the proceeds,’ and do just fine.

How does that work? Am I wrong about the necessity of transparency? Maybe it’s more of a nicety than a requirement, like chives with your baked potato or seeing the Musee d’Orsay after touring Le Louvre.

Case in point is the back page of a small brochure that came stuffed in my credit union statement a few months back from Get Away Today Vacations (GATV). GATV is a privately-held travel agency with billings of about $50 million a year which built its business booking Disneyland vacation packages for families.

It’s a nice little niche. Chuck and Julie Smith, the husband and wife who own the agency, say, “We’ve been able to make our vacation our vocation.”

So how is it that GATV can raise more than $1 million for Credit Unions for Kids using weak language like “a portion of the purchase price?”

GATV markets extensively in partnership with credit unions in the Western United States. And in general, credit unions in the United States enjoy a sterling reputation, especially when it comes to customer satisfaction.

In effect GATV’s cause campaign for Credit Unions for Kids trades on the reputation of credit unions. Like a favorite restaurant or hairdresser, people trust their credit unions. “If the credit union has blessed it then it must be OK,” the thinking goes.

So how do you build a cause campaign that can raise more than $1 million without transparency? You build a great campaign and borrrow from the reputation of a highly-respected organization.

But imagine how much more powerful the promotion would be if GATV just said how much money from each transaction went to Credit Unions for Kids?


I submit it would be much more than $1 million.

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