Skip to main content

What Cause Marketing in Hell Looks Like

As a part of my occasional series of posts on the results of cause marketing efforts, today we turn to a guest donation program in the national parks, which, a press account says, generated nearly $1 million in 2012.

The money was used for “priority park programs.” The donations are generated basically when the 638 concessioners at the 401 national park areas… at their discretion… allow guests to add $1 to their lodging bill per night stayed. In other words, it’s an add-a-dollar effort.

As I did some research to drill down on this effort I was astonished at what I learned. First of all, 279 million people visited the parks in 2011, suggesting something less that one out of every 279 visits led to a $1 donation. Not bad when you consider that not every one of those 279 million visitors stayed a night in a participating concessioner’s room.

The next surprising thing is that the National Park Guest Donation Program was piloted at 12 national parks over the course of three years in the early 2000s, including some the most iconic: Yosemite; Grand Canyon; Everglades; and Yellowstone.

Imagine that, a three-year pilot of an add-a-dollar fundraiser.

If you’ve worked for a nonprofit and ever complained about the glacially-slow pace of decision making, be glad that you don’t work for the nonprofit that owns Glacier National Park!

The other thing I turned up is in a similar vein. The National Park Service issued a 63-page “Reference Guide to Director’s Order #21 Donations and Fundraising.” If you’re a veteran fundraiser or cause marketer you might think that that’s an especially fulsome fundraising guidebook to help local park superintendents raise some much need funds.

And you’d be wrong. Instead, it’s 63-pages of bloodless prose about where partner donation boxes may be placed, how to answer the phone when a prospective corporate sponsor calls, and the “suggested” wording of the letter from the Park Service to be placed in the rooms of lodgings that offer the Guest Donation Program:
“Your support of this program is appreciated, but if you prefer not to participate, simply notify us at any time during your stay and we will remove this donation from your room account. [Provide phone extension, a check-off card that can be left in the room or at the front desk or some specific means of indicating that they do not want to participate].”
C.S. Lewis wrote, “My symbol for Hell is something like [a] bureaucracy.” If that’s true, the National Park Service has a preview here on earth of what cause marketing looks like in hell.

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. …