There are a number of ways brands approach cause-marketing: Join some boards or committees, adopt a nonprofit group, buy tickets or sponsor community events, etc.
One of my favorite, but often underutilized, approaches is “adopt a cause.” For example, L’Occitane focuses much of its philanthropic efforts on helping the visually impaired. According to Vanity Fair, the company’s CEO, OIivier Baussan, has pledged to provide vision screening, and when needed, glasses to 7,000 children in seven states this year. A decade ago, the company began including Braille on its packaging. Additionally, Baussan launched a program for blind children his hometown. But, that’s not all. The company’s foundation battles blindness in Bangladesh and China. At various levels — from product packaging … to the foundation — the company gets behind this one cause.
Whether you choose to adopt one cause or support a variety of needs, don’t forget to weave digital organizations and opportunities into your plan. You may already be blogging, facebooking or tweeting about giving donations or attending fundraisers. Don’t stop there. Two ideas to take it a step further:
- Support online organizations and communities. For example, if your company donates to local schools, add a digital twist by partnering with teachers in your community who have profiles on AdoptaClassroom.org. From the organization’s website: “By adopting a classroom, donors form partnerships with specific classrooms providing financial and moral support. The result is a meaningful contribution to education in which donors experience the impact of their efforts and celebrate in a classroom’s success.” Services like DonorsChoose.org, Kickstarter and Kiva can help companies add some online oomph to their corporate giving.
- Crowdsource corporate giving. A recent survey found that only 55% of surveyed executives reported that their companies had used crowdsourcing as part of CSR programs, but 95% of those who had reported that the tactic was at least somewhat valuable to the company’s CSR efforts.
As you begin to take a “2.0” approach to cause-marketing, think about creative ways to leverage digital tools to support your efforts. And, don’t be afraid to share successes and failures. As Shannon Paul wrote last year, “Woody Allen said 80 percent of success is showing up, but when it comes to establishing a meaningful presence on the social web, that figure may be closer to 100 percent.” She went on to write that online success stories like Dell, Zappos and Comcast show up (online and at conferences) to teach — they don’t just market. “But, in the teaching and sharing, we become much more receptive and supportive of their marketing messages.”
How can you add some digital elements to your cause marketing? And, how can your business leverage these initiatives to to participate in conversations that support the goal of building a relevant, meaningful online network?