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What is cause-related marketing?

According to cause-marketing consultant Jocelyn Daw, cause-related marketing (CRM) is a mutually beneficial collaboration between a corporation and a nonprofit in which their respective assets are combined to:

  • create shareholder and social value
  • connect with a range of constituents (be they consumers, employees, or suppliers)
  • communicate the shared values of both organizations

American Express first used the phrase "cause-related marketing" in 1983 to describe its campaign to raise money for the Statue of Liberty’s restoration. American Express donated one cent to the restoration every time someone used its charge card. As a result, the number of new cardholders grew by 45 percent, and card usage increased by 28 percent.

More modern and widely known examples are listed at CauseGood and Selfish Giving. This article offers tips on how you can start CRM locally, for example:

  • Coin canisters at local businesses
  • "Pinups" (also known as paper icons)
  • Shopping or dining days
  • Donations for Facebook likes

CRM is distinct from corporate philanthropy because the corporate dollars involved in CRM are not outright gifts to a nonprofit organization, so they are not treated as tax-deductible charitable contributions. Nonprofits potentially benefit from increased fundraising and exposure. Likewise, corporations that are socially involved potentially benefit from increased brand loyalty and employee morale. Studies have shown that for products of similar quality, consumers will consider the company’s image and reputation when choosing a brand. To find and develop CRM opportunities, nonprofit organizations should expand their research efforts beyond the traditional corporate giving directories and refer to resources in the business departments of public and/or academic libraries.

Learn now about corporate fundraising with Introduction to Corporate Giving, our free class. Available free as both an online webinar and an in-person class.

See also our related Knowledge Base articles:

- What is courtesy advertising?
- How can I find corporate sponsorship? Where can I find examples of sponsorship levels?

More articles about corporate funders»

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