September 15, 2011

GoodThreads: Custom T-shirts as a fundraising tool

GoodThreads order form


Connecting people to causes through shirts that tell stories

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, brands, fundraising professionals, community managers.

This article is part of our series on social fundraising.

Guest post by Brandon Hance
Founder & CEO, GoodThreads

In 2010 our family lost my aunt Carol to breast cancer. When tragedy strikes, I believe it is part of the human condition to find healing through “the fight” against the culprit – be it disease or disparity. Additionally, surrounding friends and family often rally around those who have been affected and show them support, caring and compassion.

This theory became blazingly clear to me as I watched my mother and close friends train for a 39-mile race to honor my aunt soon after her passing. Not only did they train, but they spent ample time, energy and money creating T-shirts for their team, each with unique messages dedicated to my aunt, and each remembering her in their own distinct way. As I observed this labor of love, I couldn’t help but think: There must be a better way to do this — and a way that actually benefits the organization.

Thus, GoodThreads was born, and the idea of connecting people to a cause through “shirts that tell stories” became a reality.

GoodThreads provides nonprofits with a technology that seamlessly integrates into the event registration and donation processes, while supporters are given the tools to create customized merchandise — T-shirts, hats, bags, water bottles, etc. — that allows them to tell their personal story and demonstrate their connection to the cause.

Nonprofit organizations that partner with GoodThreads enable their supporters to buy merchandise that can then be customized with their name, the name of a loved one, photos or other images, and personalized messages. GoodThreads also allows the nonprofit to identify what portion of the item’s cost will be donated to its cause. Continue reading

January 20, 2011

Finding the right chemistry for nonprofits & business


How to build partnerships — beginning with cause marketing

JD LasicaI‘ve been spending some time lately with Bruce W. Burtch, a cause marketing expert in the Bay Area, to discuss opportunities for bringing together nonprofits and companies in a mutually beneficial partnership to advance the social good.

Bruce is the cause marketing columnist for and was actually the creator of the first cause marketing campaign, between March of Dimes and the Marriott Corp., three decades ago. He also designed the most successful campaign on emergency preparedness in the country through a partnership between Pacific Gas & Electric and the American Red Cross, raising over $1 million, attracting considerable media coverage and resulting in 1 million Bay Area residents being trained.

“This is one of the most outstanding ways of raising money, raising awareness, raising volunteers and finding board members,” he said of cross-sector partnerships. “It works for the nonprofits to create donations and awareness. It works for the for-profits to crate sales and good employee morale.”

I sat down with Bruce the other day to discuss cause marketing, his recent marketplace study and opportunities for “win-win” partnerships. In this 7-minute video conducted on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, he talks about some of the partnerships he has helped set up, like the one between Autodesk and Art from the Heart in the San Rafael school district.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Study highlights: Missed opportunities for nonprofits?

Bruce just released his annual Burtch Report, a survey of nonprofits and businesses in California (it’s available for free on this registration page). Such partnerships — sometimes called strategic philanthropy, cause marketing or cross-sector partnerships — are increasing in both number and in the breadth of the linkages between partners. The report found that 55 percent of nonprofits responding had partnerships with for-profit organizations, while 66 percent of for-profits said they did.

The survey found more than 16 different areas of potential linkage and benefit between nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

In the past few years, prominent cause marketing campaigns — such as Pepsi’s Refresh Project, American Express Members Project and the myriad breast cancer fundraising campaigns — have created a much higher public visibility of cross-sector marketing-focused partnerships, Bruce said.

“When a nonprofit and for-profit bring together their mutual assets and talents, and seek to create a greater good, their combined efforts can produce results far greater than either could do on their own,” he said. The survey found more than 16 different areas of potential linkage and benefit between nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including fund development, in-kind donations, volunteers, event sponsorships, board members, pro bono PR and advertising, earned income opportunities, sales incentive programs, loaned-executives, increased employee morale, brand recognition and more.

The businesses responding named these as the top benefits and return on investment for their partnerships with nonprofits:

24.5% Publicity received
22.9% Community goodwill
19.6% Sales generated
11.4% Volunteer satisfaction
  8.1% Shareholder return
13.1% “Other” answers

The most unexpected finding of the survey was that while 59 percent of nonprofit respondents wanted to learn more about the benefits of cross-sector partnerships, some 27 percent of the nonprofits without such partnerships were not interested in learning about them. “I find it inconceivable that when faced with decreasing public and foundation financial support, the nonprofit community wouldn’t jump at the chance to explore the fundraising and cost-reducing benefits of corporate partnerships,” he said.

Read the Burtch Report for findings about the understanding gap between the two sectors.

November 15, 2010

Twitter as a force for social good

How Twitter helps the social good from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaMost nonprofits and cause organizations look at Twitter as a key ingredient of their social media strategy. But Twitter offers a number of other opportunities for collaboration to advance the social good — many of which you may not know about.

Claire Williams Diaz-Ortiz, who heads up Corporate Social Innovation & Philanthropy at Twitter (and who just got married), has long been a member of Socialbrite’s Do Gooders List, so I was jazzed to sit down with her last month at BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Some highlights from our chat:

• Twitter’s main hub for social good efforts is At the site, people can learn about causes to follow on Twitter and organizations can learn how to use Twitter more effectively. Current campaigns focus on literacy, Haiti relief and malaria prevention.

Cause marketing is part of Twitter’s philanthropic strategy. When Twitter launched its Promoted Products platform earlier this year, it started with six businesses and two nonprofits (“tweets for good“). “Every month we give a month’s worth of free promoted tweets for a nonprofit,” she says.

• Twitter works closely with Room to Read, a nonprofit that partners with local communities throughout the developing world to establish libraries, create local language children’s literature and improving children’s reading skills with an emphasis on educating girls. Twitter has conducted an International Literacy Day promotion and a couple of fund-raising campaigns for them, Claire says.

• Claire, an avid runner, also is co-founder of HopeRuns — check it out — and she blogs at (see her latest: What are the roots of happiness?).

• At BlogWorld, Claire spelled out some tactics on how nonprofits can excel at Twitter, namely, T.W.E.E.T. — that is, target, write, engage, explore and track.

If your nonprofit has a particularly worthy social cause, get in contact with Claire and see how Twitter might be able to get your message out to tens of millions of users.

November 11, 2010

How charities can take advantage of Facebook Deals

Introducing Facebook Deals.


New Facebook feature makes cause marketing more actionable

John HaydonLast week Facebook launched a new app for Facebook Places called Deals.

Deals essentially allows any small business to more easily offer deals when users check in to their place on Facebook.

But there’s also an opportunity for nonprofits to take advantage of the new feature.

What’s in it for your nonprofit

Obviously your nonprofit doesn’t offer deals as a way to raise donations. But the restaurant or clothing store down the street does.

One option that local businesses have in creating a deal is to create a “Charity Deal.” This allows the business to implement a cause marketing program with a single mouse click! Continue reading

October 18, 2010

QR codes may give big boost to cause marketing

Guest post by Joe Waters
Director, Cause Marketing, Boston Medical

Imagine this: You visit your local supermarket and are asked to support a local food pantry. You a buy a pinup for a buck. On your receipt is message that you can learn more about the cause you just supported by scanning this barcode with your smartphone.

In your car before you leave the supermarket parking lot you run your iPhone over the barcode and a one minute video airs on a food pantry like no other. It’s run out of your local hospital. The pantry started by feeding a few thousand patients every year. In 2009 it fed 75,000 men, women and children. The video closes with an image of a food line that snakes down the hallway and around the corner. It is, after all, the busiest day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving.


The cool thing is that you don’t have imagine this happening. It already is. In a recent tweet, Chris Mann pointed me to this article on how two groups in the United Kingdom are using barcodes, RFID tags or QR codes, as they seem to be most commonly called, to add personal history to donated items. (Note: What a great idea for Goodwill!)

Mashable thinks QR codes may be headed for a breakout. Last week it highlighted Stickybits, an app I’ve been playing around with for a couple of months.

Stickybits brings context to real-world objects with its next generation approach to the QR code. The mobile app is primarily a barcode scanner — powered by Red Laser — but it takes the technology into the realm of fun by creating a social and shared experience around any item in the physical world that possesses a barcode.

Download the iPhone or Android application, scan your favorite cereal box, add an item — maybe a related recipe, but any video, photo, audio clip or comment will do — and you’ve just started a digital thread around that item.

Think of the potential for cause marketers to make transactional programs less, well, transactional and more meaningful. When you pick up a mug at Starbucks that supports Product (RED) you can scan the QR code to hear the story of a man who benefited directly from the life-saving HIV drugs RED provides and Starbucks funds.

But that’s not all. Supporters can scan the barcode and use their smartphone to record why they support Product (RED), which then can be viewed by the next person who holds the mug up to a smartphone. Continue reading

April 22, 2010

4 examples of corporate social responsibility done right


JD LasicaHere at Socialbrite, we’re always looking for sterling examples of how the corporate sector is contributing in genuine ways to the social good. Those bridges between the for-profit and nonprofit/social good sectors are becoming increasingly vital.

So I was jazzed to see the presentation by Beth Kanter and Kami Huyse of Zoetica yesterday at NewComm Forum in San Mateo, Calif., on what they’re calling “lethal generosity” (a term from Shel Israel’s “Twitterville”). The discussion provided some clarity around the difference between corporate social responsibility, cause marketing and what the Zoetica folks call lethal generosity: “when a corporation applies its core competencies to advance social change in a way that contributes to business results and gives it a competitive advantage.”

Without going into whether the term will catch on (I think it probably won’t — it’s really just CSR done right), here are four fantastic examples of how large companies have been contributing to the social good in compelling ways:

Molson Coors & responsible drinking


1.Over the years, Molson Coors Canada has used CSR to advance its brand — and is one of the few major corporations to take advantage of social media in doing so. (Shel Israel wrote about Molson in his book Twitterville.) As Beth mentioned yesterday, Molson Coors invests more in responsible drinking education than on alcohol-centered events. Molson reaches out to the community to find ways to spread the message of responsible drinking, putting money behind the TaxiGuy program (for those who’ve had one too many) and covering the cost of free public transit on New Year’s Eve.

Shel recounts the story of the holiday season of 2008 when the Toronto Transit Authority canceled its New Year’s Eve free-ride transportation because of budget cuts. Molson stepped in and launched a campaign to replace public funding with private sector donations, starting with its own $20,000 donation.

Molson has a small social media team led by Ferg Devins, who is not only responsible for selling beer but for outreach to communities in need. The team uses Twitter and blogging to initiate community generosity projects.

Molson’s Responsible Drinking Program (see image at top)
Molson Coors blog — they even have a Socialbrite-style Twitter conversation widget at the right
@molsonferg on Twitter (Ferg Devins)
Molson Canadian Facebook page

Tyson Foods & hunger relief


2.Tyson Foods offers another example of a major company tying its corporate social responsibility efforts to its core mission. Tyson has committed its brand to efforts to relieve and ultimately end childhood hunger, and in the past few years been integrating social media into its hunger relief efforts.

Tyson connected with the Social Media Club and began a string of extraordinarily smart and effective efforts to enlist the community. For example, it launched a campaign in Austin in which it agreed to donate 100 pounds of chicken to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas for every comment posted on its blog. They received 658 comments in two hours and loaded up two trucks filled with chicken for the hungry, Beth said. They repeated the success in Boston and San Francisco, launched a user-generated video contest in Minnesota and sponsored a day of service for its social media team.

Tyson Hunger Relief Blog
Tyson Hunger Relief: Our Commitment
Tyson Hunger Relief blog post on outside Twitter accounts involved in hunger relief
Tyson Hunger Relief on Twitter (Ed Nicholson)
Tyson Foods Hunger Relief on Facebook
Sustainability – It’s In Our Nature: Report on Tyson Foods’ economic, social and environmental efforts (PDF) Continue reading