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Transparency and Thanking Supporters in Cause Marketing

The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database… my proprietary library of cause marketing ‘activations’…has thousands of examples that go back more than 10 years. But the folder labeled ‘Thank You Ads’ is all but empty. I just don’t see many examples of sponsors or causes thanking supporters for their help after a campaign has ended.

This is a major missed opportunity for both causes and sponsors.

Transparency is vital to cause marketing. And a vital… if mostly ignored… part of transparency is to report back how it all went. Such reporting reassures supporters that whatever effort they took helped in some way.

If in the future most cause marketing campaigns did no more than to announce how much money was raised, they will have done more than what 99 percent of cause marketing campaigns do today.

A better approach would be to announce how the money that was raised was used. If you did a paper icon campaign for a children’s hospital and the campaign generated enough money to buy 50 high-quality neonatal pulse oximeters, then you should issue a press release and notify your social media channels of that fact.

The best approach of all would be to track the results of those 50 pulse oximeters and then tell supporters how they helped in the diagnoses and treatment of actual pediatric patients

This kind of reporting back is demanded by our human need for reciprocity. Even if the donation was just $1, reciprocity demands that people be thanked for their effort, even if it has to come as a collective thanks.

Plus, because cause marketing can be so in-your-face, you risk donor-fatigue even though the donation amounts are small. The cause that continually asks without reporting back makes it seem like the baby bird whose mouth is always wide open and squawking for more.

Charities aren’t sustainable in the same way that businesses are; so they are like baby birds always crying for more. Fundamentally, that’s the way charities are. But causes and charities must pause to thank their supporters, even when the support comes in $1 at a time.

Sponsors and causes must bake these “here’s what happened and thank you for your help” communications into the cause marketing campaign budget, otherwise it will never happen. But that cost needn’t be high, especially when causes and campaigns make use of social media.

Finally, it’s in the best interests of causes and sponsors to take the opportunity to keep the conversation alive with their customers and supporters. Telling people what happened is a perfectly legitimate touch-point. And thanking them for their help and reporting back the campaign’s results is an effective way to keep the relationship active.


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In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

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