Guest Author - Tricia Krietzberg
While conducting my research on cause-related marketing trends, I came to realize that there are many successful examples that go back several years. Take Box Tops for Education for example. General Mills first created Box Tops for Education 12 years ago and since then, it has donated more than $250 million dollars to public, private, parochial, and home-based schools across the country. The concept is simple – buy specially marked packages, cut off the box top, and send it to your child’s school where the Box Tops committee will manage the collections. For each box top collected, ten cents in cash in donated to be used for anything the school needs.
Of course, you have to buy the products in order to collect the box tops. And, yes, it’s only 10 cents each. But those dimes can really add up. Consider this: if a school has 500 children enrolled, and each of those children eat one box of Cheerios a week, that school can earn $2500. All this from a little piece of cardboard you would buy anyway. The best part is that you don’t even have to have children to be charitable. Just clip those box tops, save them up, and drop them off to the nearest school, and you have just helped to make a difference.
There are also corporations that sell products completely unrelated to a particular cause, and yet, donate 100% of net profits to charity. I bet you’ve heard about Newman's Own, right? It is well-known that Paul Newman was not just an incredible actor, but he had a very big heart and was very community-minded. It was also well-known that he was quite a good cook. So, twenty six years ago, Mr. Newman brilliantly put those two things together to create the Newman’s Own line of foods. The sole purpose of this company was to share good food, and spread the wealth. In the company’s entire history, it has donated every cent of profit to charity. That adds up to $250 million dollars! The company has used the money to start several “Hole in the Wall” summer camps for terminally-ill children across the country.
There are several examples of companies that make specific products with a cause in mind, and then donate the sales of those products to charity. The rubber wrist-band craze is one of those examples. Buy the “Live Strong” wrist-band from the Lance Armstrong Foundation and your money goes to support cancer programs. The pink ones go to breast cancer, the red ones go to AIDS research, and so on. You name it, and it can be made with a logo or a color that aligns itself with a cause.
Fashion designer Kenneth Cole has recently gotten in on that craze. The hugely successful designer is also a philanthropist at heart whose motto is, “We think to be aware is more important than what you wear.” Through his “Awearness” Fund, Cole makes financial contributions to organizations including AMFAR and HelpUSA. He also hopes to raise awareness about critical issues, and to connect interested individuals to volunteer opportunities across the globe. Purchase various t-shirts, or his book, “Awareness, Inspiring Stories about How to Make a Difference,” a collection of essays by folks who are making the world a better place, and 100% of the proceeds go to the “Awearness Fund.”
These examples are just a few of the hundreds of ways that corporations and charities are teaming up. I believe that, given the tragic economic situation that we are all living through, we will start to see many more partnerships like these. If corporations can increase their customer base and charitable organizations can make a little money to continue their missions, then cause-related marketing just makes good sense.
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