Skip to main content

Let's Clear Out This Cause Marketing Logjam

Suppose you’re a small entrepreneur with a generous impulse and you want to offer sponsorship dollars to one or more charities, especially prominent ones. How would that phone call or email go?

Karma52, an cause-based apparel company, is finding it tough going.

That’s because the biggest causes ask for (and get) large upfront commitments from would-be sponsors. They require such commitments as a kind of qualifier. If you can’t afford a cause's upfront, for instance, then it can assume that you’re not a likely partner. Moreover, causes are rightly concerned that they risk their brand by getting involved with a sponsor that is either a bad match, a dishonest operator, or worse.

But in their caution, causes are leaving money on the table. The Fortune 1000 has largely been picked through by causes. Most of the large companies are either already doing cause marketing or it doesn’t make sense for them. The future growth of cause marketing for causes will be with smaller companies. 

Karma52’s business model is like Threadless.com. Launching in the second quarter of 2013, Karma52 will create original artwork representative of a cause, one per week. Karma52 will put the design on T-shirts and other apparel and merchandise, and then give a portion of sales to the cause.

“Thus,” says Karma52’s promotional materials, “good karma goes back to a country that has been good to them, and they reap good karma manifold for giving. The opportunity for good karma occurs 52 weeks every year, and 52 worthy national causes are helped. By wearing Karma52 apparel, customers wear their good karma!”

Karma52 asks potential partners for no cash, only the ability to use the cause’s logo and feature the designs in an online gallery. Karma52 certainly also hopes that the cause will activate the sponsorship via PR and online.  But, so far, American causes haven’t responded well.

Instead, says Karma52, “most organizations are requiring a specific dollar amount to be pledged, or one year in business, or need to discuss with their board and then never get back to us…  Ironically, if we donate to non-USA causes, they are quick and thankful to agree. However, our preference is to give back to our country and its inhabitants by supporting American causes.”

In effect, we have a kind of Catch-22 in place for Karma52 and other such social enterprises. They can’t afford the upfront donations or commitments, and their business model requires that they have relationships with multiple causes.

Over the years I’ve heard a number of such stories from entrepreneurs and other enterprising companies.

I think there’s room for some sort of mechanism… or an intermediary… whereby small companies could engage with charities, big and small, without putting the cause at risk or requiring unlikely commitments from putative sponsors. There's an answer to this dilemma, but to my knowledge it just hasn't been developed yet.

Until then, the logjam can only be cleared if someone extends a little trust.

If your cause would like to partner with Karma52, contact help@karma52.org, hila@karma52.org, or keith@karma52.org. The phone number is: 657-212-5423.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

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


Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Cause-Related Marketing Meets Microfinance

Kiva.org and Advanta.com Mix it Up

You’d have had to have been in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the last year or so to have missed the run up of microfinance. Between 2004 and 2006 more than $4 billion of capital flowed into microfinance institutions. All told experts say the total loan microfinance loan portfolio may be as much as $12.5 billion. And of course the father of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Microfinance is now so respectable, so effective, (so profitable!) that it’s already enjoying its first global backlash.

Actually that first sentence is hyperbole. Because even in Ulaanbaatar… far from almost anywhere on the vast, frigid steppes of Mongolia… microfinance is thriving such that the earliest recipients of micro loans there are now complaining about taxes and government bureaucracy! And May 29-31, 2008 the Conference of Microfinance Institutions will convene in Ulaanbaatar, the eleventh such annual conference.
Now Advanta, a credit card issuer to small…

Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

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.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …