Stop Leaving Cause-Related Marketing Money on the Table

Today I got a call from an entrepreneur who had tried to do a deal with a prominent children’s charity that does a notable amount of cause-related marketing. He loved the cause… still does… but after two years time spent on the project it didn’t pan out, mainly because the minimums and the upfront fees the charity required to participate were two high for the entrepreneur’s budget.

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:
Not surprisingly, the donors near the top of the pyramid are lavished with more attention than the donors at the base. But the donors at the bottom are nonetheless vital to reach the campaign goal.

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.

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