Innovative Cause Marketing 'Inventory'

Selling cause marketing sponsorships… like selling radio or television airtime… means selling the intangible. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have inventory. Races have space on t-shirts and signs, telethons and radiothons have airtime, packaged goods products have packaging.

Keep brainstorming and other cause marketing inventory will become plain.

I advised a friend, a New York Times best-selling author with his own charity, to auction off the rights to name a character in one of his upcoming books. Shortly before I left Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals I was working on adding a kind of behind-the-scenes tour to my sponsors who achieved certain fundraising levels; never underestimate the degree to which people love to pull back the curtain on how “Oz” manages his acts of magic.

A really fun kind of alternate cause marketing inventory came across my desk recently.

In Raleigh, North Carolina Terramor Homes does a BBQ in support of the Duke Children’s Hospital Radiothon. The BBQ includes games, prizes, giveaways and a dunk tank. For an extra $5 to $20 at the BBQ you can sign one of the studs that will go into the ‘Miracle Home’ that Terramor and its partners is building and will sell to benefit Duke Children’s Hospital.

The local builder has made a $120,000 pledge to Duke Children’s Hospital and the ‘Sign a Stud’ promotion will help Terramor meet its promise. Unlike those hoary old name-a-brick fundraisers that have been a part of capital campaigns since time immemorial, the signed studs will almost certainly never be seen by the people who buy the home.

That said, signing the structural steel that goes into buildings has a long history in America. Honoring that tradition, President Obama and others recently signed the last pieces of steel going into the One World Trade Center Building on the site of the former Twin Towers. During WWII American workmen and women signed the airplanes and tanks they made. Doing so was a matter of pride.

In other words, this "inventory" has long existed. But, to my knowledge, no one had ever sold it as a part of a cause marketing sponsorship til now.   

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