Winter 2006
Cause and Effect By Mollie Neal

Article Resources

Cause Marketing Forum

Charity Brands Marketing

Cone Inc.

Harper Greer

Lonelyville Coffee

Tails in the City

Before You Sign on the Dotted Line…

Forming relationships with local charities can be beneficial for all involved. The charities receive much-needed support, and you’ll probably develop customer loyalty and sales.

However, there are a few things to consider before forging your newfound friendship:

Choose partners wisely.

Identify a reputable cause that fits one of your product lines or your store theme, and that’s sure to tug at the heartstrings of your customers and employees. If you carry toys, consider helping a children’s organization. People who buy clothes may enjoy helping a local shelter, and art lovers would probably feel an affinity toward a local museum.

There really is power in numbers.

Recruit other businesses on your block or in your neighborhood. Make a real impact with customers and maybe even get press coverage by holding a large event, such as a sidewalk sale or an auction with part or all of the proceeds going to select charities.

Support is a two-way street.

Promote the organization in your store with fliers, posters or donation canisters. Include information about your charity on your website and in your promotional materials. Be sure that your partner organization extends the same courtesy to you.

Define your goals.

While your charity is surely worthwhile, your partnership is a marketing program nonetheless. Intangible benefits could include differentiating your business, building customer loyalty, improving employee pride and generating publicity. Tangible benefits may include increasing store traffic and sales or decreasing staff turnover rates. If the results are poor, the program probably isn’t benefiting either of you. That is a sure sign that you need to respond in a professional manner and make some changes to the program, or gracefully end your relationship.

Mollie Neal

Neal writes about market trends, demographics and advertising issues for a variety of business and consumer publications. She can be reached at

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