Connecting Profit with Purpose

Boosting business by doing good sounds like a no-brainer, right? In the past few years, businesses have been raising the bar to not only “do good in the world” but to find opportunities to give back to causes that resonate with them. This is best exemplified during the holiday season.

The end of the year can be stressful enough, so how can your business focus on hitting its numbers while helping others? One solution is cause marketing. Cause marketing is a collaboration between a for‑profit business and a nonprofit organization for a common benefit. Many nonprofits have a limited budget for marketing, and cause marketing can help get the word out about their efforts outside of their typical audiences.

Since the pandemic, many consumers expect more purpose-driven initiatives from companies. To put it bluntly, businesses that care about sustainability and ethics are at the top of consumers’ lists, so companies must pivot their strategies to keep up with the values of younger generations. Cause marketing, then, is a win-win. It helps to boost business’ sales by showing customers that your team cares about social good—all while enacting positive change in the world and supporting a good cause.

When is cause marketing a good fit for your business?

Many small businesses might not have the budget to write an extensive check to a nonprofit of their choice, and that’s okay. You must look at where your company currently stands financially and think of what your business can offer other than just money. Before jumping right into a partnership with an organization, consider the following:

  1. Does the organization’s mission align with the core values of your company?
  2. Does your team believe it has a moral role to play or an ethical obligation to participate in the organization’s mission?

Although the end goal of cause marketing is to help others, there are many benefits your business can expect when the initiative is executed effectively. Brands earn credibility and solidify customer trust while boosting employee morale, increasing sales and differentiating themselves from their competitors.

Where do you begin?

When launching a cause marketing campaign, it is essential to identify your audience. The mission should reflect the values of your company, your team and your customers. If your customer base doesn’t resonate with the issue at hand, your involvement may come off as disingenuous.

As you work to identify a cause, consider what your employees’ passions. Start by thinking back to your business’s core values. For example, REED Public Relations has six core values. We donate our time, talent and treasure to causes we believe in that line up with our values—and we help our clients do the same. By working with REED, clients become a part of our agency’s Be The Good program, which provides scholarships for individuals to do volunteer work worldwide.

REED’s program is just one example of how a business can naturally integrate a cause marketing initiative into its everyday routine. Also consider company-wide volunteer days, annual stipends for employees to donate to a cause of their choice or pro bono work. Choose a method of giving back that makes the most sense for your team and their availability, then search for a charitable partner that could benefit from whatever it is you’re willing to give.

How to find an appropriate charitable partner?

When looking for a partner charity, it is important to ensure that the partnership is mutually beneficial. Making sure the nonprofit doesn’t contradict your own company’s values in any way is crucial. For example, if many of your team members are vegan, it wouldn’t make sense to partner with a nonprofit that is involved with animal food products. Lastly, do some independent research on the charity. If they don’t have a good public reputation and a lot of legal troubles, it’s best not to associate yourself with those issues. You should also analyze public sentiment online and on the major social media platforms.

Once you determine your charitable partner, consider various factors when deciding how much you can give. It is okay to look out for the interests of your business while still offering your help. If a monetary donation is out of the question, companies can still donate time, products or services to a great cause. Examples include video services for charity functions, email marketing campaigns, event planning, photography, social media management and more.

How to make your cause marketing campaign successful.

Plan thoughtfully when creating the campaign and ensure the cause you support aligns with your brand. When collaborating for a cause marketing campaign, both the business and the nonprofit must frequently communicate to ensure goals are aligned across organizations.

Stuck on where to start? There are several easy ins for new cause marketers this holiday season. Consider kicking off your campaign on Small Biz Saturday (Nov. 27) or Giving Tuesday (Nov. 30). World Kindness Day (Nov. 13) is another great option for 2022. As with many other facets of PR and marketing, timely tie-ins help with team member and customer buy-in when kicking off new initiatives.

Overall, the key to success in cause marketing is authenticity. The cause needs to make sense with your business’s mission and employees, and your partnership needs to tangibly benefit your partner organization. Do this, and customers will know that when you say your company cares about more than profit, you really mean it.