Marketing for Thought

Social Awareness and Cause-related Marketing

Last night before my sorority’s chapter meeting, Kalli Veldman, a junior at Elon University, and one of her Sigma Sigma Sigma sisters came to share with us a cause that their organization cares deeply about: Home of Hope.  Now, by no means is my sorority a quiet group of girls- I would describe us more as extremely opinionated and social girls- but for the entire ten minutes that these girls talked to us about Home of Hope, we were dead silent.  She described the orphanage as a safe place for children and women to escape cycles of prostitution, and that their chapter alone had raised enough money for a plumbing system for the orphanage.  When she played a short YouTube video to wrap up her presentation, you can tell that everyone in the room felt compelled to help.

And then it hit me: we really are a  more socially-aware and environmentally-conscious world. We are compelled by causes and want to make a difference.

 Cause-related Marketing

According to the Edelman Goodpurpose Study 2012, 53% of people would be compelled to buy a certain good based on social purpose, if price and quality were the same as other products.  In 2011, Forbes reported that 94% of Americans alone would purchase a product with a social purpose over a competitor’s with similar price and quality, according to Cone Communication’s research.

So, what drives people to support non-profits? 

Since the beginning of this semester, my class has been observing and researching different marketing techniques and brand trends in the non-profit sector and cause marketing. The following are factors that I think are essential for non-profits.

  • Emotional connection: From my interviews with other students last week, I found that people want to be enticed to help.  According to Cone Communication’s customer survey post Cyber Monday and Black Friday, “consumers’ heartstrings are leading their purchase decisions and putting brands’ support of social issues at the top of their gift lists.”  People are much more willing to spend money or time when they feel a tug at their heart.  Compassion is the first step towards persuading people to get involved.
  • People involved want to see results! They want to know that THEY are making a DIFFERENCE.
via Edelman Goodpurpose 2012 Study

via Edelman Goodpurpose 2012 Study

Jenna Sonlin and Tori Sonlin, a junior and freshman at Elon University, both paid $50 to the Home for Hope Orphanage to sponsor an orphan.  After they donated, they received pictures of the orphan they sponsor and a collage from the orphan.  Each month, they receive cards and letters from their orphan and can pen pal them.  Fifty dollars is a lot for college students without jobs, but they both believe that it’s rewarding because they get to see their orphan grow and can interact with them.

People want to see their results, no matter how much they are able to contribute. Donating and volunteering today is about making a difference more than anything else.

  • Power of Story: In one of last week’s classes, Holly Stewart discussed the importance of building a story.  Every brand needs a story- why it was started, it’s mission, it’s vision- and consumers and customers want to be able to envision themselves in this story.  Chip Heath and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick, the elements that make ideas and brands memorable, also believe that creating a story is essential for non-profits and for-profit organizations. ” The story’s power is twofold: It provides stimulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act)..both benefits, stimulation and inspiration, are geared to generating action.”
  • Heartache to Hope: It’s important to make consumers feel emotional about a cause, but it’s also important to establish how the organization and it’s volunteers and donors are making a positive change. You never want to leave your consumer feeling hopeless.

Trending…Teaming up with For-profit organizations

After discussing so many different organizations that team up with non-profits in class, it’s crazy to think of how many companies would want to get involved (Pampers and UICEF, National Geographic and World Wildlife Foundation, Dawn and the International Bird Rescue/The Marine Mammal Center, etc!). It’s beneficial for both parties- providing larger audiences and donations for non-profits, while the for-profits can expand their image of being socially responsible.

A great example of strong co-branding between a non-profit and for-profit organization is Disney and the African Wildlife Foundation.  Disney released African Cats in 2011, a documentary of African wildlife similar to March of the Penguins.  Disney then donated a percentage of the first ticket’s sales to the African Wildlife Foundation.  This drove people to go see the movie the first week it was realized, and it reached an audience that cared about African wildlife.

This brings us to… ABAN

This semester, a team of three other students and myself are working towards increasing traffic, awareness, and sales of a non-profit organization started in the North Carolina community.

via ABAN

via ABAN

A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN) is a non-profit organization that strives to improvement Ghana’s environment and empower street women and children to restoring themselves and creating better futures.

40 tons of plastic is thrown on the street everyday. 30,000 children sleep on those same streets.

They provide a 2-year program for 20 street women that heals their body through providing a safe home, nutritious meals, and healthcare, develops their mind through educational classes (math and reading), life-skills courses, and responsible living, and nurtures their spirit by helping them develop positive views of themselves, community engagement, and spiritual life. By the end of the two year program, these girls have learned life skills and trade skills that will give them the opportunity for better futures.

From liter to unique products, via ABAN media kit

From liter to unique products, via ABAN media kit

ABAN Community Employment (ACE), ABAN’s for-profit subsidiary, sells bags and accessories made of the plastic littering that they collect from the streets of Accra, Ghana.

Ultimately, ABAN strives to create a place where women realize their worth and dignity and empowers them to transform their futures.

In the future, ABAN hopes to be able to help more women and open other locations.

Looking Forward

I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work with ABAN and help them strategize marketing techniques to reach their goals. It’s an exciting project considering how socially-aware my generation is and how willing people are to be involved with products and organizations that make a difference.

I am especially looking forward to researching for-profit companies that support and co-brand with non-profit organizations like ABAN.   I think this is an untapped trend that ABAN could really benefit from.

This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.


3 thoughts on “Social Awareness and Cause-related Marketing

  1. Alex Silverman says:

    “People involved want to see results! They want to know that THEY are making a DIFFERENCE.” This was one of the main points I took away from your post. You highlighted, and I think it is a key component of getting people involved in non-profits as well, to show supporters that they have a personal connection with the cause. If supporters feel like they are apart of a cause they can in turn feel like they could be apart of the solution. I enjoyed how you tied your story about your friends going out of their way to sponsor an orphan, and through that one child they felt so connected to the cause they were supporting, and through pictures saw how they were making a difference in this child’s life. I feel like it is that difference between giving to a cause, and actually seeing what their dollars are doing, which I think if ABAN could utilize this technique somehow, could benefit their organization in the long run.

  2. Liz Jester says:

    I think you made a lot of really great points in this post. The part that sticks out in my mind the most is where you started talking about partnerships. You listed some examples, like Pampers with UNICEF, and National Geographic with the World Wildlife Foundation. The thing about these partnerships is that they are so relevant. Pampers, a diaper company, supports UNICEF’s neonatal tetanus elimination program – perfect fit. National Geographic and the World Wildlife Foundation are another obvious perfect fit.

    I think for both non-profits and for-profits, it’s so important to partner with organizations that make sense. In class we talked about how Susan G. Komen partnered with Purina Dog Chow, and that just didn’t make sense.

    I also think it’s kind of important to keep your partnerships limited. I don’t mean to pick on the Susan G. Komen Foundation, because I think it’s a wonderful organization, but they have been catching some fire because they seemed to go partnership crazy. People even started using the term “pink washing”. Hopefully the Komen Foundation will eliminate some of its irrelevant partnerships and take an approach similar to the ones you discussed in your post.

    I think you covered a lot of important brand and partnership strategies here, and I loved reading your post!

  3. At the risk of repeating Alex’s comment, the same quote is a point in your post that really resonated with me. I talked about it briefly in my blog post, but you completely hit the name on the head- we basically demand to see how we are helping and where our money goes. Transparency is so key in this; I know a lot of people who are skeptical of donating to certain organizations since they never really know where their money goes. Non-profit organizations are still businesses and must maintain good business practices, which means they must meet the customer’s wants and needs while working towards their goal.

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