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Cause Marketing Circa 2022

The current issue of Fortune magazine, modestly called 'The Future Issue,' examines what the world and the world of business will be like ten years hence in 2022.

Fortune’s prognosticators see video projected on every window surface, 3-D printers on every desktop, smart holographic table tops as in the movie Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, real-time subtitles for teleconferences, and apps that help you put together your ideal office work group. (That's an Eden 3D printer on the left, although it's not exactly a desktop model.)

Conspicuous by its absence is any mention of nonprofits, although Fortune does see people working later in life thanks to new miracle drugs and treatments for chronic conditions like arthritis. Great, I get to work for years to come!

But it set me to thinking; what’s the 10-year future of cause marketing, nonprofit fundraising and corporate social responsibility?

I put on my Merlin cap and came up with these three ideas:
  • Big Data and Cause Marketing. Fortune raises the idea of ‘big data,’ which means making sense out of all the data points that your mobile devices generate. Your phone collects tons of data having to do with time and place. In the near future when your phone is also your digital wallet, it will generate even more data. Part of that data will be records of you buying Campbell’s soup instead of Lipton, buying a bracelet at Starbucks that supports some cause. In 2022 a new kind of mathematician/marketer will parse all this data and deliver to your phone cause marketing offers customized distinctly to your behavior and preferences.
  • Honesty Machines. In the near future competitors, advocacy groups, government agencies and others will be able to deploy mobile machines able to accurately and remotely monitor smokestack emissions. Or the amount of CO2 released at airport taxi stands by idling taxis. Or the amount of offal generated by factory farms. Think of them as lie detectors for your business. By 2022 corporate social responsibility won’t be a matter of self-reporting any more. Independent groups and agencies will do the reporting and they will catch the liars and the fibbers.
  • Crowd-Sourcing Your Idle Hours for a Cause. Crowd-sourcing has been going on in nonprofits for several years now. Think about how amateur birders, for instance, currently help to complete population counts for university researchers, the Audubon Society or the state fish and game services. But by 2022 it will all the more convenient. Imagine, for example, that you’re jetting off to Seattle for a meeting and your smart phone knows that you... an amateur astronomer... have time to help The Royal Astronomical Society identify potential planets in distant star systems while you’re on the plane. It will route to your mobile device screens of space for you to review and analyze.
What do you see in 10 years for cause marketing? Please comment below.


John Leenane said…
I think (hope!) your first idea of big data and cause marketing will be start to emerge this year. My company ( is looking to redefine cause marketing and enable consumers choose any cause to benefit from any type of engagement. Brands will still partner with their favorite causes but now the consumer will have the ultimate choice as to who benefits. This is a better engagement model for all and will help personalize each opportunity.
Hi John:

Interesting idea.

I'd love to hear more.

Warm regards,

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