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Effective Cause Marketing Sans the Transparency

I have ranted often 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 still cling to the obsolete language, “a portion of the proceeds,’ and do just fine. Get Away Today, a family vacation travel agency uses just that language when describing its donations to Children’s Miracle Network

How does that work? Am I wrong about the necessity of transparency? Maybe it’s more of a nicety than a requirement, like Skull Candy earbuds with your new iPhone or stopping by in Maui after staying in Kaua’i.

Case in point is the back page of a small brochure that came stuffed in my credit union statement earlier this month from Get Away Today (GAT). GAT is a privately-owned travel agency with billings of about $50 million a year which built its business booking Disneyland vacation packages for families, although it now books to all kinds of non-Disney destinations as well. Only Disney’s own travel agency sends more people to Anaheim than does GAT.

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

So how is it that GAT can raise more than $2.5 million for Credit Unions for Kids using weak language like “a portion of the purchase price?” Credit Unions for Kids is a fundraising effort from credit unions in support of Children's Miracle Network.

Even the firm’s Facebook page, which is currently running a donation promotion for Children’s Miracle Network is more specific. When you like GAT's Facebook page, they’ll donate $1 up to $10,000.

GAT 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.

In effect GAT’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 logic surely goes.

So how do you build a cause campaign that can raise more than $2.5 million without transparency? You build a great campaign and borrow from the reputation of a highly-respected organization.

But imagine how much more powerful the promotion would be if GAT just said how they determine the donation for Credit Unions for Kids?

I submit it would be much more than $2.5 million.

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