Amazing News about Nonprofit / For-profit Partnerships

This is the Hanukkah and Christmas season. It’s a time of great spiritual meaning.

For Jews, it is a time to celebrate religious freedom and the survival of the Jewish people.

For Christians, it is a time to rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ.

For retailers, this is economically a make or break season.

Now, there is stunning news concerning nonprofit/for-profit partnerships. Cause-related marketing is something that can significantly help both nonprofit organizations and their for-profit partners more than ever before.

According to a study from Cone Communications, a public relations and marketing agency specializing in cause branding and corporate responsibility, an overwhelming 94 percent of consumers are likely to switch brands, about equal in price and quality, to one that supports a social issue. This purchase behavior is at an all-time high since Cone first began measuring consumer purchase trends in 1993, says Craig Bida, Cone’s Executive Vice President of Cause Branding and Nonprofit Marketing.

“Over the years, consumers have been increasingly expecting companies to support social causes. Now, we’re seeing Americans demand companies address issues by speaking with their wallets,” said Bida.

Cone’s research also shows that:

  • 62 percent of consumers say they already have purchased a cause-related product in the past year. 
  • 81 percent of consumers say they would donate to a charity supported by a company they trust, if given the opportunity. In other words, the endorsement factor works both ways.
  • 70 percent of consumers say they have already made a donation in the past year.

“Americans expect companies to address issues that affect the quality of life locally and advance economic development, such as Starbucks’ Create Jobs for USA campaign,” said Bida. “This campaign has differentiated Starbucks from the competition and given it an edge to communicating brand values during the holidays and amid a struggling economy.”

“For companies, the message is clear,” continued Bida, “with consumer expectations higher than ever, it is critical for brands to support causes and demonstrate meaningful impact on important social issues.”

For nonprofit organizations, entering into a cause-related marketing relationship can generate immediate corporate cash, plenty of publicity, and increased individual donations. However, for such relationships to be successful, nonprofit organizations must be true to their brands. When selecting a for-profit partner, brand alignment is essential. For example, you would never expect the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to establish a cause-related marketing relationship with chicken purveyor Purdue.

If there is brand alignment and a carefully constructed agreement, a win-win relationship can be created. The for-profit partner will benefit as indicated in the Cone study. The nonprofit partner will also benefit from the corporate support, increased public exposure, and increased individual giving.

For 2012, consider how cause-related marketing can help your organization. Take the time to carefully explore your options. Then, next year at this time, you may have another cause for celebration.

I wish you and yours a happy Hanukkah and merry Christmas!

That’s what Michael Rosen says … What do you say?

[Publisher’s Note: This post was inspired from a Tweet received from Ian M. Adair (@IanMAdair). I thank him for the good information and inspiration.]

5 Comments to “Amazing News about Nonprofit / For-profit Partnerships”

  1. Happy Hanukkah and best wishes for the new year. I tweeted this post because I’m always playing down pursuing corporate giving over planned giving. But this was really good information. Thanks Michael.

    • Lorri, thank you for the holiday good wishes and for Tweeting about this post. Like you, I seldom write or talk about corporate giving. I tend to ignore corporate giving because it’s such a small slice of the philanthropic pie; corporate giving accounts for only 5 percent of philanthropy whereas planned giving, for example, accounts for 8 percent, according to Giving USA 2011. But, even at just 5 percent, corporate giving is still important and, for some organizaitons, it really is quite a significant source of giving. The reason I chose this week to focus on corporate giving is because the study I reference is about, in part, the nexus between individual giving and coporate giving. The part of the study that I found most interesting is that individual giving can actually be stimulated by a corporate “endorsement.”

      Thanks again. I hope you and yours enjoy a very happy New Year!

  2. My friend, international consultant and author, Bernard Ross Tweeted about my post today. He made a very important observation. I had Tweeted, “94% of consumers say they would switch brands to ones that support social causes!”

    Bernard correctly pointed out that consumers in the study “say” they would switch brands. Of course, that does not mean they would actually do so. Surveys that ask people to predict their future behavior are notoriously inaccurate. In this particular case, I suspect that survey responders wanted to be seen, to the surveyor as well as themselves, as good people. And, good people would switch brands under the circumstances described. So, the 94% figure is suspect.

    The reason I did not address this issue in my original post is that the other data from the study was compelling. So, while the “real” number might not be 94%, I believe it is still likely quite high. For example, 62% of consumers say they already have purchased a cause-related product in the past year. While 62% is far from 94%, it’s still a significant percentage. And, the year-to-year trend line has been increasing.

    So, while I take some of the specific numbers from the study with a grain of salt, I do find the broader indications to be meaningful. But, Bernard is quite correct to sound a cautionary note concerning the 94% figure.

  3. Thanks for the ideas. I hope to try with my synagogue next year.

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