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Finding the Entrepreneur That Wants to Support Your Cause Marketing

The latest numbers show that causes are still being squeezed on two sides: by increasing demands for services; and by donation rates that trail the increase in demand. Cause marketing can help fill part of the shortfall. But, as ever, causes face the challenge of knowing just who to approach.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way for charities to know which business people are most likely to be open to their appeals?

A survey published in Inc Magazine has some broad answers for charity fundraisers looking to partner with businesspeople.

The survey results, published in the March 2012 issue of Inc, draw on the work of Professor Noam Wasserman, who teaches the popular course ‘Founders’ Dilemmas’ at Harvard Business School. Wasserman has a new book out called The Founder’s Dilemmas.

Wasserman asked ‘roughly 2,000’ business founders what motivates them to start and operate businesses. The answers, not surprisingly, are different for women than men and change over time for both sexes.

In order the top-ranked overall motivations are: Autonomy; Power and Influence; Managing People; Financial Gain; Altruism; Variety; and, Intellectual Challenge, a close cousin of Variety.

For women and men the top answer for business founders in their 20s, 30s and 40s is Autonomy. Interestingly, that is the polar opposite of what non-entrepreneurs say they care about most.

The fourth most frequent answer for women in their 20s, 30s and 40s is Altruism.

Altruism also registers as the third most frequent answer for men in their 40s.

Inc posits that perhaps men in their 40s, having focused on financial gain in the first two decades of their life, are now considering their legacies and are, therefore, more willing to make financial sacrifices as they age to support causes.

According to census figures, there are approximately 6 million enterprises with employees in the United States. Only a fraction of those companies are good candidates for cause marketing.

But for those that are good candidates, the take-home lesson from the Wasserman/Inc study is this: the entrepreneurs most likely to respond to appeals to their sense of altruism are female founders of any age and male founders in their 40s or older.

Happy hunting, friends!

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