Business Advice: Cause-Related Marketing

December 08, 2010

Cause-related marketing is a great option for small business owners to help a charity and generate goodwill for the company. Whether it’s donating proceeds from sales to a charity or encouraging customers to give, BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends that small business owners consider the benefits of partnering with a worthy cause.

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, at the close of 2008, 60 percent of small business owners reported that the tough economy had affected their charitable giving. When times are tight, businesses may need to get creative about helping charities. Cause-related marketing is a great option for businesses that can’t necessarily write a big check.

The recent breast cancer awareness month is a great example of the impact of cause-related marketing. Bright pink ribbons were everywhere in October as businesses donated proceeds from regular sales or for limited edition pink items.

Embedded giving is another way that businesses can partner with charities to raise money. Embedded giving is common at stores where customers are asked if they want to donate to a charity at check out and then the desired amount is tacked onto their total.

“Times are tough for small business owners, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good corporate citizens and help out a worthy cause this holiday,” said Don MacKinnon, President and CEO of the BBB serving the Maritimes. “By partnering with a charity, small businesses can help raise awareness as well as money for the cause and generate goodwill for the company in the process.”

Before soliciting donations on behalf of a charity, or engaging in any cause related marketing efforts, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice to small business owners:

Do your research

When choosing a charity to donate to, always research the organization thoroughly. Visit their website and look for details on the charity’s programs, finances, and governance. Always check with the Canada Revenue Agency to see if the Charity is registered within Canada. The CRA can be reached at 1-800-267-2384.

Get formal permission from the charity

Charities are trademarked entities, so before you place their logo all over your marketing materials, contact the charity to get permission to use their name and likeness. They might also have ideas for cross promotion or additional ways you can help out.

Include the right disclosures

At some point prior to the purchase, the customer should be presented with the following information:

  • How much from each purchase will go toward the charity.
  • The time frame for the campaign.
  • If applicable, the minimum or maximum amount that the charity will receive.