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High-Dollar Cause-Related Marketing

Inspiration Bracelet for the Parkinsons Unity Walk

Thanks to Lance Armstrong and his Lance Armstrong Foundation, we all know how to do a bracelet campaign. You pick a supplier from the hundreds or even thousands out there. You try to find a color and a saying that seem emblematic of your cause, and you sell it for $1 at your charity’s events or online.

[BTW: Today, Tuesday May 13, is LiveSTRONG Day]

If by now plastic/silicone/rubber bracelets seem a little ‘me-to’ then consider this bracelet campaign from New York City artist-sculpture David Stevenson benefiting the Parkinsons Unity Walk. When you buy the sterling silver bracelet at the left called ‘Inspiration’ for $175, 40 percent (or $70) goes to Parkinson’s Disease research.

The Unity Walk, which takes place each April in Central Park, was inspired by Marlene Kahan, executive director of American Society for Magazine Editors, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2004.

The Unity Walk people commissioned the bracelet from Stevenson, and the fulfillment is handled through Stevenson’s website.

This marks another in an increasing number of what I call high-dollar cause-related marketing donations, say amounts from $20 or more. When I started in cause-related marketing a typical CRM donation from a packaged goods campaign might be a nickel ($0.05). But I’m seeing more and more of this high dollar cause-related marketing.

I’m not alone.

As I write this, in the handy little poll from Vizu in the column to the right, 31.6 percent of respondents say they’ve seen cause-related marketing donations of $20 or more for the purchase of a single item.

How can you capitalize on this trend?
  1. Start by looking for (and finding) items with a higher perceived value. Don’t forget who your audiences are.
  2. Pay close attention to your costs. In a plastic bracelet campaign, it would be no big deal for most charities to keep in inventory $10,000 worth of plastic bracelets, which might cost $2,500-$3,500 and could sit in your supplies closet. But $10,000 worth of sterling silver bracelets at $175 a pop amounts to just 57 bracelets, which you’d probably have to keep in a safe or vault.
  3. The lowest cost approach may be the arrangement Unity Walk has with David Stevenson. Stevenson has his own website and ecommerce ability and handles production and fulfillment, too.
  4. If you can’t find an arrangement like that… although Stevenson does takes commissions… consider a hybrid approach whereby you add it to your charity’s existing site (or put up a dedicated microsite), and allow the producer to fulfill it.


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