Cause Marketing

What is Cause Marketing and How Can it Help My Small Business?

There is a widely successful marketing tool that you’ve surely come across in your shopping experiences without realizing it. It’s called Cause Marketing, or Cause-Related Marketing, and it is an example of how a symbiotic relationship between business and nonprofit can create ripple effects of good in the community. It occurs when a for-profit business partners with either a general cause or with a specific not-for-profit organization. The nonprofit and the cause are beneficiaries of funds and increased awareness. The for-profit business gains and keeps customers who value corporate social responsibility. It’s a win-win!

Cause Marketing Examples

On a large business scale, we’ve seen examples of this. McDonald’s and the Ronald McDonald House Charities have partnered for decades, a partnership that has helped thousands of children and has been a positive force for the McDonald’s brand. The Red Nose Day campaign affiliated with Walgreens has been hugely successful for Walgreens and for the foundation which aims to lift children out of poverty. Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign is a noteworthy example. The company is able to relate their giving campaign directly to their product, an extra bonus for the cause and for the brand because it is even more memorable and powerful.

Cause Marketing and the Small Business

It’s obvious that large corporations find success with cause marketing. The question is, is it just as profitable for community nonprofits and small businesses to jump on the bandwagon? The answer is a resounding “yes!” Small businesses have many local nonprofits and causes to choose from, and partnering with one can be an incredible way to get their brand out to the community. In a 2011 global study, it was revealed that a whopping 93% of consumers are more likely to remain loyal to a brand if it supports an outside cause. This is true for large corporations and small businesses alike.

Cause Marketing Best Practices

The great news is that all of the strategies that large corporations use can be directly applied to small businesses and local nonprofits.

The first step is to consider the causes that you personally care about, and that your staff can get behind.

Is there a cause that has directly affected your community, such as, recent devastating wildfires that would stir up a passion for supporting firefighters or burn victims? Or, is there a cause that is directly related to your brand and product/service?

This coffee company in Massachusetts has created a “Birds and Beans” campaign to educate consumers on the connection between coffee farms and the declining songbird population. The easier it can be tied back to what you are doing on a day to day basis, the easier it will be for customers and employees to engage in the cause.

Another great resource that both large and small businesses have is social media. Get your community involved on social media and make an even greater impact.

Lastly, do your best to partner closely with the nonprofit you’ve chosen so that both entities are participating in the campaign. It’s a great thing to donate money to a cause. It’s another thing, and a step forward for your business to have an active and vibrant cause-related marketing campaign that shows that both parties are excited about the partnership.


Cause marketing is an exciting and fresh way to connect to your community and get people involved in your business. Get involved today and watch your business or nonprofit reach new heights in your community.

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