January 10, 2012

Cause marketing campaigns making an impact

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These nonprofits are teaming up with corporations to make a difference

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, businesses, brands, CSR professionals, marketing managers.

Guest post by Daryn Sung-Lee, for Vivanista

At Vivanista we believe that we all have a bit of philanthropist inside us. Beneath the protective masks we put on lays the innate desire to do good. Cause marketing, where a company partners with a cause like breast cancer research or a charity donates funds to tsunami relief, enables regular people to consume mainstream products while doing their small part.


Although there’s nothing like good old-fashioned hands-on philanthropy, it does give causes and nonprofits the visibility and marketing resources they couldn’t get on their own. eBay, the world’s largest e-commerce company, is breaking ground in the world of cause marketing. They started an in-house cause called Giving Works in 2003, which allows eBay users to donate money to any cause of their choice. Basically, users can choose to donate money along with a purchase, or donate a percentage of whatever they sell to an organization. In this way, eBay has made it incredibly easy for thousands of nonprofits, big or small, to receive funds and visibility.


With Twitter and Facebook making it even easier to become informed about local and world causes and charities, and with support from businesses, cause marketing is beginning to make a difference

Last year Microsoft’s Bing search engine received the Cause Marketing Halo Award, given by the Cause Marketing Forum, for their partnership with DonorsChoose.org. With the cause of education in mind, both organizations sponsored a contest called Our School Needs, where students from schools across the nation sent videos, pictures and essays explaining their schools’ needs. Bing and DonorsChoose were responsible for donations and projects in schools across all 50 states. As a result of the contest, children gained a familiarity with social media tools like Twitter, blogs, playlists and YouTube, which they used to submit their schools to the contest.

Coca-Cola is also in the mood for philanthropy. The company teamed up with the polar bear-loving World Wildlife Fund to turn the classic red cans white during the holidays. Along with donating $2 million right off the bat, the white packaging, which appeared on such Coke drinks as Coca-Cola Zero and Diet Coke, helped to raise awareness for the conservation of the polar bears’ natural habitat. Cola drinkers were able to text in dollar donations to WWF as well as donate online at ArcticHome.com. It is widely known that the polar bear is the symbol of Coke’s cool, refreshing taste. What better way to return the favor then by fighting for the greatly threatened habitat of these majestic animals?


Sure, when your company is making millions of dollars, it’s easy to pick a charity out of a hat and throw money at it, all while marketing your products. But for the ongoing cause marketing campaigns mentioned above and many others like them, this is simply not the case. As with Bing’s Our School Needs fundraiser and eBay’s massive effort to raise money for thousands of causes, the companies went to the people for philanthropic direction. Through social and online media, the people themselves were able to decide what, where and to whom their donations were going to.

With social tools like Twitter and Facebook making it even easier to become informed about local and world causes and charities, and with a little support from businesses, cause marketing might see an explosion in popularity in the near future.

This article originally appeared at Vivanista.com and is republished with permission.

Photos above from Flickr by: roitberg, USFWSAlaska, calvinfleming, Jochen Siegle/TechShowNetwork

Daryn Sung-Lee is in his junior year at San Francisco State University, studying broadcast and electronic communications. As a native of San Jose, Daryn has a first-hand understanding of the supportive, community-based nature of the Bay Area.
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  • Colette Palmer

    I didn’t see any of those cans, perhaps not a campaign they ran in New Zealand. What a bummer, it’s a very cool idea!

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