Cause Marketing in Your Signature Line

MyContactCard, which builds web apps, has just launched CauseMail, a souped-up HTML signature line for your emails that includes contact information using branding from a select group of charities and generates a yearly $6.48 donation to the chosen charity.

The service costs an individual $12.95 a year. It is being marketed to both individuals and charities.

The pitch MyContactCard is making to charities goes like this: “100,000 supporters sending just 10 emails a day deliver over 365 million graphic, clickable impressions a year with the Cause branding, culture and donate now links.”

I like this idea and I like the execution. But frankly if that pitch represents their target market, they’re barking up the wrong tree. The number of nonprofits in the United States with 100,000 supporters who are online is a pretty small number.

Tens of millions of Americans gave more than $306 billion to charity in 2007. One third of that that goes to churches. The rest goes to literally millions of 501(c)(3)s.

I couldn’t find the actual number, but I’d be surprised if the average American donor gives to much fewer than a dozen charities a year. To put it directly, American give generously to charity, but their charitable giving is diluted among numerous entities.

Moreover, the charities that do have 100,000 supporters almost certainly have their own IT departments [and know how to rent services from Amazon S3, too]. The IT crew at St. Jude Child Research Hospital, to cite one, is certainly capable of putting together something just like MyContactCard.

But there are hundreds of thousands of charities with smaller lists and no IT department who could potentially benefit from MyContactCard. I’ll bet the people at MyContactCard figure that out pretty soon.

So should you subscribe to MyContactCard? That depends on you. Currently there are nine causes on board at MyContactCard: 

  1. ASPCA 
  2. Green Day
  3. Lance Armstrong’s LiveSTRONG
  4. One 
  5. Special Olympics 
  6. Sea Shepard Conservation Society 
  7. Stop Global Warming 
  8. Surfrider Foundation
  9. Wounded Warrior.

If the Surfrider Foundation moves you, $12.95 a year isn’t terribly expensive. If all your emails carry the Surfrider Foundation’s branding, there’s probably a halo effect that redounds on you.

But if none of these causes move you but you like the idea of cause marketing on your signature line, consider doing what I do. 

The final line in my email signature reads: “Support the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. Donate at COTA.org.” 

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