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The Cause Marketing Post in Which I Invoke Both God and Andrew Carnegie

There’s a famous longitudinal study which found that children from homes where one or both parents were college educated would, by age four, have heard 32 million more words than would their peers from families who were on welfare. The quality and tone of the words in the homes with professional parents was also higher and more positive in nature.

A more recent study in the United Kingdom turned up very similar results.

Another influential paper called ‘Matthew Effects in Reading,’ found that early success in reading built on itself, while children that didn’t learn to read early were more likely to have trouble acquiring new skills later in life.  

The author, Keith Stanovich, called it the ‘Matthew Effect,’ after Matthew 25:29 in the New Testament: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

Reading and literacy track closely with long-term success in life. That is, the Matthew Effect describes a positive feedback loop as well.

Another study finds that middle-class families have an average of 13 books per child, while in low-income neighborhoods the ratio is just one age-appropriate book per 300 children!

Cause marketing can’t do much about the number or the quality of words said in a home. But it can do something about age-appropriate books available to poor kids.

This awareness-raising cause marketing message from Homewood Suites, which increasingly targets the family leisure travel segment, and represents a natural tie for its Lewis the Duck children’s book series. Homewood Suites’ logo features a duck. To date, Homewood Suites has donated more than 5 million books to needy kids and built and maintained 60 lending libraries in poor neighborhoods. Homewood’s nonprofit partner is

Building libraries, expanding literacy and giving books to children is God’s work, if I may be so bold. America’s first real philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, funded some 2500 libraries between 1883 and 1929 in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. My own father-in-law grew up in a small town reading in a Carnegie Library.

In the United States, most of the Carnegie Libraries became, in time, public libraries supported with public funds. It’s fair to say that the traditional high rates of literacy in America and the Commonwealth countries is due in part to the Carnegie Libraries.

Three Cheers, then, for Homewood Suites for taking up the mantle of this important work. Because when it comes to literacy and reading the Matthew Effect needs to live on.


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My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

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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.

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