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Cause marketing benefits, types and examples

June 14, 2022

Cause marketing is a collaboration between a non-profit and for-profit business. The purpose of cause marketing is to increase profits while making a positive social impact. Non-profits usually don’t have the marketing budget needed to attract support for their cause and for-profit organizations usually need causes to support as a part of their corporate social responsibility efforts. This is where a cause marketing partnership proves to be beneficial —  it increases brand awareness and reach while creating a good sentiment among customers. 

Related The 7 benefits of partnership marketing

The Importance of Cause Marketing

A group people cleaning up a luscious green field.

A study from the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report shows that 66% of global customers are willing to switch to brands that are sustainable. In 2022, this statistic still rings true, with customers more likely to support purpose-driven brands by a willingness to pay more for sustainable products and engaging with cause-aligned brands. Overall, the saying ‘vote with your dollar’ describes a customer’s approach to supporting brands in the modern age, which is why considering cause marketing is key for a business’ success. 

Cause marketing can also refer to for-profit businesses creating their own causes through scholarship funds, foundations, food drives, and other methods of giving back to the community. 

The Benefits of Cause Marketing

3 people wearing whote shirts with the word 'volunteer' on them

There are many benefits for businesses that engage in this form of marketing, including:

It boosts your brand image

Collaborating with an NGO puts your brand in a favorable light. This is because you’ll likely appeal to customers that support and resonate with the cause your business is championing. You may also strengthen the relationships you have with existing customers and increase their brand loyalty when they realize your business is purpose-driven and cares about more than just profit. 

It helps your brand stand out from the competition

There are thousands of brands for customers to choose from, which is why making yourself stand out from the competition is key. When given a choice, people will likely pick a brand that is affiliated with a social cause over one that isn’t. This means by engaging in cause marketing, your business will be able to increase sales and make more money than other businesses in the same industry.

You can engage the community

Promoting certain causes allows more people to become aware of them, which helps with increasing community engagement. This means resources can be mobilized to help solve issues that plague society, which can impact the relationship your brand has with the community positively.

Increases employee morale

People love working for companies that make a difference as much as they love supporting them. Research shows that millennials are the largest generation in the workforce and they love doing work that has a purpose. They value making a positive societal impact and being proud of where they work, which is why partnering with an NGO is a good way to increase employee morale. 

Types of cause marketing companies can engage in 

A brand can incorporate cause marketing to promote itself through the following means:

  • Sponsorship - This is when a business funds a charity event or a program on behalf of an NGO
  • Licensing - A business uses a charity’s intellectual property, such as a logo, on its products and marketing materials. Learn more about brand licensing here.
  • Advertising - A business aligns itself to a cause and effectively communicates that message to its target audience using marketing
  • Purchase related donations - A business pledges a certain amount or percentage of sales to charity
  • Direct marketing - A for-profit and non-profit organization collaborate to raise funds and awareness
  • Facilitated giving - A brand gives donations from itself or customers to a charity 
  • Employee engagement - Ask employees to volunteer for charity and use the photos, videos, and written content to promote it on and offline

How to Choose the Right Cause Marketing Partner 

Make sure you choose the right partner

Choosing the right partner for your cause marketing campaign is important because it determines its direction and success rate. The ideal partner is one that aligns with your business goals, mission and values. You should also consider what industry your business is in and your target market prior to choosing a cause marketing partner.

Find and engage your customers where they are

Your target audience should be at the heart of your cause marketing strategy. This is because their engagement is central to your campaign’s success. Engaging your audience can be done through social media posts, on and offline events, fun contests and giveaways, influencer marketing, and email marketing.

Create a powerful, emotive campaign with a call to action (CTA)

The best cause marketing campaigns include a moving message that drives people to take action. This is done by creating a clear intent that resonates with your audience and will motivate them to take action that will make a difference and support your cause. 

Examples of cause marketing campaigns 

Lyft and Bread of Life’s ‘Lyft Up’ Campaign

Lyft's pink and black 'LyftUp' logo

Lyft partnered with Bread of Life on a campaign that detailed offering free rides to essential workers during the height of the coronavirus campaign. Bread of Life employees were also given these much needed rides, which ensured that they were able to get to work and offer their important food safety services to people across America. 

Cadbury and Age UK’s ‘Donate Your Words’ Campaign

A purple Cadbury bar with the qords 'Donate your words' underneath

Cadbury collaborated with Age UK to fight against ageism and loneliness in elderly people by encouraging people to reach out to older people in their personal lives and those they encounter on a daily basis on public transport and other spaces. 

As a part of their campaign, they removed words from their packaging so people could ‘donate their words’ in exchange for an item from their pop up shop. Cadbury donated every 30 pence from every chocolate bar sold to Age UK. Have a look at the campaign video:

The Body Shop and Cruelty Free International

The Body Shop's Cruelty Free Products with the words 'Choose cruelty free'

The Body Shop is renowned for its anti animal cruelty stance, so this beauty giant embarking on a cause marketing campaign with Cruelty Free International came as no surprise. The campaign happened in 2018 and included The Body Shop raising awareness about the harmful effects of animal testing in the beauty industry through a petition that garnered 8 million signatures in total. The petition was sent to the UN, which achieved the overall goal of the campaign.

Starbucks and RED

3 Red starbucks cups with white covers

To raise funds and awareness for World AIDS Day, Starbucks teamed up with RED. They pledged to donate 10 cents for every red cup sold in their Canadian and US stores and ended up raising over $12 million in total. 

The red cups were eye-catching and made customers take notice of the campaign. It was also beneficial because it increased brand loyalty and helped customers realize that Starbucks cares about impacting society positively. 

TOMS One for One Shoe Campaign 

A pair of black TOMS shoes with a tag that reads \With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.'

TOMS has a popular cause marketing campaign that they've been doing since 2011. The campaign includes encouraging customers to buy TOMS shoes and in return, TOMS pledges a pair to children in underprivileged countries. The campaign has since evolved to include eyewear and water.

Cause marketing is an ideal form of partnerships that helps for-profits and non-profits reach their respective goals. We hope the information above provides you with more insight on the benefits of cause marketing and how your brand can leverage it to become a more socially conscious brand.