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Cause Matters.

Yesterday, I dumped on Tupperware and their cause marketing that was, in my opinion, less than cohesive. But I do think that most companies trying to do cause marketing do have good intentions. They have marketing objectives, yes, but they aren’t setting out to exploit charities or organizations. However, as more companies jump into the cause marketing field, an enormous amount of waste is created between competing brands and consumers with too little information to make smart giving choices.

There are examples of good and not-so-good cause campaigns everywhere. Selfish Giving posted something this week that highlights how some companies will jump on this train without being clear about how they are helping a charity and how they are helping themselves. Forbes explains how this can potentially backfire. Philanthropy Action gives a good 5 basic guidelines for effective and transparent giving programs. Simple things like including the basic details of the contribution (who, what, where, when, why, how) can help showcase the actual partnership and the customer’s impact.

GOOD, a company that describes itself as the integrated media platform for people who want to live well and do good, has launched GOOD/CORPS. Now this, we love. GOOD/CORPS “helps brands and organizations align business strategy with social impact, and win through highly participatory and profitable relationships with their audiences.” Our thinking exactly. With case studies like Pepsi Refresh and Starbucks, they make a compelling case. Their seven tenets are especially helpful in explaining that “cause marketing” is not a tactic, it should be a way of thinking. Here’s our favorite nugget of wisdom from them: “GOOD/CORPS helps brands and people build campfires together around which they share what great things they did together today, and plan what great things they’ll do together tomorrow.”

There is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to take cause marketing to the next step, making it work for good while demonstrating value, providing differentiation and building brand loyalty. Personally, I am in a unique position in that I had 5 years of experience in the nonprofit sector before joining the Elasticity team, as well as 3 years coordinating donations for a small business. I know what the day-to-day life is like for charitable organizations and I have seen successful, seamless partnerships and forced ones alike. Fresh out of college, when the environmental organization I was working for got a call from MySpace, wanting to give us 6 figures to attach our name and logo to a tree widget, I had dollar signs in my eyes. Luckily, these decisions were not up to me, and our executive director recognized that attaching our name to something that seemingly had no alignment with our mission (and had been recently involved with controversy) would not necessarily be worth the money.

We’re especially excited to see this topic getting more traction because not long ago, Elasticity launched Cause Matters. It is our goal to take cause marketing to that next step. It is our mission to move beyond today’s increasingly ineffective—by all measures—and possibly harmful cause marketing and help companies stand out, capture customer attention and build brand loyalty, while doing good for the cause(s) they are strategically aligned with. Whether a company wants to manage their donation requests or create strategic partnerships, we have ideas. We know that companies want to do some good; we want to make sure they can do well.

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