Skip to main content

Cause Marketing Pennies at a Time

With the 2004 publication of his landmark book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid in 2004, C.K. Prahalad laid out the case for how technology… and new ways of thinking about customers and business models… could enable companies to deliver products and services of value to the four billion people across the globe who live on less than $2 a day.

Companies like Hindustan Unilever are doing just that with great success. But is there a way that technology could do the same for cause marketing and philanthropic giving?

A startup funded on Indigogo called CentUp is trying to do just that with a microgiving approach targeted at content developers and the people who support them. Here’s how it works:

Producers, like me for instance, put the CentUp button in proximity to their content. The button acts as a like button. The user preloads some sum into their CentUp account and each CentUp like is releases a few pennies. Half goes to the provider, half to so-far unnamed charities. This is truly microgiving. 

Needless to say, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom in fundraising which goes something like this: ‘it’s just as much work to ask for a modest donation as a big one, so you might as well ask for a big one.’ In other words, focus on the top of the pyramid.

That’s rational thinking. But it leaves money on the table. That said, can microgiving actually add up for charities?

The short answer is, it has been for decades.

The US Postal Service Breast Cancer Semipostal Stamp raised tens of millions less than a dime at a pop! The BoxTops for Education campaign from General Mills has raised hundreds of millions for schools just 10 cents at a time. Cash register round-up schemes collectively generate millions a few pennies at a time. Most paper icon campaigns, aka pinups, have collectively raised hundreds of millions at a $1 per unit.

CentUp is treading familiar ground only in much shinier shoes.


Len Kendall said…
Thanks so much for sharing our story. Totally agree with you that the bottom of the pyramid has been used for ages, and continues to be under-utilized. The fact of the matter is, for many non-profits donors are far more important than donations. And it's easier to grow donors when the cost of entry starts off low.


Popular posts from this blog

Three Ways to Be Charitable

I’ve spent a big chunk of my career working with or for charities. Many of my dearest and ablest friends are in the charity ‘space.’ And the creativity and problem-solving coming out of the nonprofit sector has never been greater.  Although I’ve had numerous nonprofit clients over the last decade or so, I haven’t worked in a charity for about 12 years now, which gives me a certain distance. Distance lends perspective and consequently, I get a lot of people asking me which charities I recommend for donations of money or time. My usual answer is, “it depends.” “On what?” they respond. “On what you want from your charitable activities,” I reply. It sounds like a weaselly consultant kind of an answer, but bear with me for a moment. The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas and means “from the heart,” implying a voluntary act. Caritas is the same root word for cherish. The Jews come at charity from a different direction. The Hebrew word that is usually rendered as charity is t…

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…

Five Steps To Nurture a 30-Year Cause Marketing Relationship

Last Monday, July 22, 2013, March of Dimes released the annual results of its campaign with Kmart... now in its thirtieth year... and thereby begged the question, what does it takes to have a multi-decade cause marketing relationship between a cause and a sponsor?

In the most recent year, Kmart,the discount retailer, donated $7.4 million to the March of Dimes, bringing the 30-year total to nearly $114 million. March of Dimes works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

Too many cause marketing relationships, in my estimation, resemble speed-dating more than long-term marriage. There can be good reasons for short-term cause marketing relationships. But most causes and sponsors benefit more from long-term marriages than short-term hookups, the main benefit being continuity. Cause marketing trades on the trust that people, usually consumers, put in the cause and the sponsor. The longer the relationship lasts the more trust is evidenced.

There's also a sponsor finding cost that…