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10-10-10 Cause Marketing

I’m still waiting for my copy of Suzy Welch’s first solo book 10-10-10 from Amazon, but I’ve already started to think of the 10-10-10 decision-making instrument in terms of cause marketing. (The photo at left comes from Welch's book website).

The premise of 10-10-10 is straightforward. When you come to important decisions you ask how you will feel about the implications of the decision in 10 minutes, in 10 months and in 10 years.

As a self-help approach 10-10-10 helps you make determinations according to your own moral compass. For that matter it helps you determine what your moral compass is.

For instance, Welch relates an anecdote from when she was the editor of the Harvard Business Review and giving a speech to a group of insurance executives in Hawaii. Her two eldest children, ages 5 and 6, break from their hula dancing class and storm into the room where she’s giving her speech.

There’s a 10-10-10 moment for anyone who has ever been a parent!

Here’s one from my professional experience.

Years before I had a sponsor account at Children’s Miracle Network (CMN), one of my distant predecessors had sold them on a recognition scheme that would allow them to claim in-kind donations of volunteer time as a dollar donation according to a specified formula. Let me hasten to add that this was a matter of what number to promote to its various audiences, not the sum the firm was claiming on its tax returns. It was also a major exception to CMN’s stated policy.

The higher-ups on both sides had passed off on it because the sponsor’s donation growth had leveled off and no one wanted to report static or negative growth numbers.

The arrangement effectively stifled creativity for Children’s Miracle Network and the sponsor both. In effect, everyone got a pass. The arrangement made people lazy. They quit thinking about how to grow the sponsorship. Certainly it was dishonest, even distasteful. It bred distrust and suspicion. CMN’s management worried that other sponsors would learn of the practice and demand a similar deal.

Eventually the arrangement had to be unwound, which was painful experience for all involved. I wish I could claim credit for being the person responsible for ending the loathsome practice, but in fact my immediate predecessor did it. After the change and the account was my responsibility, both parties had a flood of ideas to grow the sponsorship.

A little 10-10-10 at the time when the arrangement was created would have stopped it dead in its tracks. All anybody had to ask is, ‘how will I feel about this in 10 years?’ to know that the arrangement was untenable.

But 10-10-10 isn’t just a governor meant to prevent ill-conceived decisions or to restrain ‘irrational exuberance.’
  • It could be used as a brainstorming tool creating cause marketing proposals. Ask; ‘could the things I’m proposing (or versions thereof) still be in place in 10 years?’ If not, keep working.
  • 10-10-10 could be an ally for a charity when prospecting for sponsors. Ask; ‘are these people I’d still want to be doing business with in 10 months? What about 10 years?’
  • For businesses looking for nonprofit partners to sponsor, 10-10-10 helps bring focus to the discussion. The missions of some charities are meant to self-eliminating. A food bank for instance. The ultimate measure of success for a food bank isn’t how many tons of food they successfully distribute each year, but how soon they can close their doors (or change their mission) because there were no more hungry people to feed. In such cases, a sponsor might rightfully ask; “Does this charity have the staff or the approach to successfully ‘go out of business?’”
What about you? How would you use the 10-10-10 tool in your cause marketing? Please comment below or email me at aldenkeene at gmail dot com.


Anonymous said…
I already think about decisions I make based on how they are going to reflect on the BRAT's volunteers, donors, and partners in 10 months and 10 years. I think I would use it as a tool to determine the viability of potential projects. What will I be using this data for in a year or ten years? Will it still be relevant? How will I use it next month, how will I use it in a decade? How could this project evolve over a month, a year, a decade? This sort of mental exercise gives me perspective; I also get a wake-up call realizing that I started this group ten years ago ~ I sure didn't think THEN that I'd be around doing all the things I'm doing, a decade later!

Kelly Stettner

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