The unfolding events around the world have caused many of us to think about the concept of community through a different lens, and we’re reminded how critical it is to support mission-driven organizations. We’re seeing organizations of all sizes step up in astounding ways to develop cause-related programs that are making a real difference – from Allbirds’ Better Together initiative, which has donated thousands of shoes to medical professionals, to client Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s pledge to commit $750,000 to Second Harvest Heartland to fight food insecurity.

Developing a cause-related marketing program can be a great way to give back on a small or large scale. Brands are getting creative and their efforts are being met with gratitude and earned media coverage. Consider the following steps in order to develop an effective program:

  1. Establish Objectives
    Identify objectives customized to the marketing challenge such as: building brand loyalty, driving brand awareness, reaching key stakeholders and galvanizing employees.
  2. Conduct Internal Research
    Audit senior management and survey employees to determine issues of concern and importance.
  3. Select An Issue
    Develop and research a variety of issues based on criteria such as: Can significant social change be made? Does the cause resonate with target audiences? Is the cause connected to the business in a way that’s easy to understand?
  4. Nonprofit Partner Audit
    Once an issue is selected, audit potential nonprofit partners. Look for an organization with credibility, strong board leadership and a history of creative programming and successful partnerships.
  5. Evaluate And Select Potential Partners
    After initial research has been completed, develop a short list of potential candidates. Request preliminary program ideas and costs/needs prior to formalizing your partnership.
  6. Develop A Program
    Develop a program, including a detailed budget, and get buy in/approval from all parties involved.  
  7. Sign An Agreement
    Draft a letter of agreement with a clear timetable and an outline of roles, responsibilities and deliverables. Define and agree on success metrics in advance.
  8. Begin Implementation
    Host a kick-off meeting to review responsibilities and continue to host regular status meetings with deliverables, milestones and success criteria clearly communicated.
  9. Monitor And Evaluate Program And Partnership
    Monitor the interim program results and the ongoing partner relationship; making adjustments and course corrections as needed.
  10. Measure Results
    Measures of success may include quantifiable changes in social behavior, increased positive consumer attitudes toward your brand, website activity and earned media coverage.

With the right steps in place and proper planning, your company can tailor a cause-related marketing program that aligns with your mission and gives back to the community – long after the current pandemic ends.

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