Category cause-related marketing

Charity Runner: The Beginning of a Fundraising Journey

Photo credit: chadjthiele on Instagram.Note: This post deviates from the regular voice of this blog. It is meant to document the beginning of my fundraising efforts for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I am posting it because it will give some context to future posts. It also lets readers know where else they can find me on the Internet.

This year is my fifth year serving on the event planning committee for the Twin Cities Take Steps Walk, a fundraiser that benefits the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

As their website points out, “Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis is the Foundation’s largest fundraising event of local community walks dedicated to raising funds to find cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Participants and teams raise funds throughout the year and come together at the Take Steps walk event to celebrate their fundraising achievements!”

As part of the event planning committee, I help plan one of the Take Steps walks to help others raise money for this important cause. However, I never actually took part in the fundraising efforts. That is, until this year.

From Crohn’s Patient to Charity Runner

I chose to help with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Take Steps Walk because I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1995 while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Without getting into all the details, I can say that I was able to keep the disease in check for nearly two decades with the help of medication.

However, in September of 2013 I was told that I would have to have surgery to remove my colon because of complications that were caused by the disease.

In the months that followed, I decided that it was time to try to increase my fitness to prepare for the surgery.

This is part of the reason that I started running in the summer of 2014.

In fact, at the time, I decided that if I was going to take up running, I would gradually train myself to run the full 26.2 miles to complete a marathon.

The first year I ran several 5k races.

In 2015 I increased the distance to 10 miles and then upped the mileage to 13.1 miles in 2016.

Then, just before my 43rd birthday, I called up the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to say that I was ready to raise money as a Team Challenge charity runner in the 2017 Chicago Marathon. (Team Challenge is similar to Take Steps, but participants run instead of walk.)

Documenting My Team Challenge Run

In an effort to document my training for the marathon, I started a sideblog on Tumblr (charityrunner.tumblr.com) and a YouTube channel (Charity Runner).

You can also connect on mapmyrun.com.

I am also going to be posting on my Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. I am @chadjthiele on all three of these social networking sites. (Note: I try to keep my Twitter focused on marketing, but I post running updates every once in a while.)

And, of course, there is the fundraising page on the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation website.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned, I have helped other people raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for a few years. However, I didn’t take part in the actual fundraising efforts.

That was, until this year.

At the end of the journey, I plan to document some of the things that I learn along the way. (For example, company matching donations are awesome!)

Until then, please follow me on the social networking sites that I mentioned above and donate!

Thanks in advance.

Chad Thiele (Crohn’s patient since 1995, #nocolonstillrollin since 2014)

Photo credit: chadjthiele on Instagram.

Video credit: Charity Runner on YouTube.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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A Case for Cause Sponsorships

Cause SponsorshipCause sponsorships and cause marketing, in general, are effective ways to earn trust from consumers and increase the number of loyal customers for the brand.

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, “Sponsorship is a form of cause marketing that involves donating to an event or organization and receiving public recognition for your contribution, linking your business name to the name of the cause.”

According to the IEG Sponsorship Report, cause sponsorship spending in North America increased to $1.99 billion in 2016, up 3.3% when compared to 2015 totals. Furthermore, they estimate that this number will increase to $2.06 billion in 2017.

While this is only a small fraction (9%) of the total sponsorship dollars spent in North America, it is still a number that should hearten the leaders of the many worthy charitable organizations out there.

Cause Sponsorships Should Remain Strong

The IEG Sponsorship Report warns that the growth in sponsorship spending, in general, could slow given several factors, including “uncertainty over global and local economic conditions in the wake of Brexit, the Trump election and other geopolitical matters, and its impact on marketing spending, including sponsorships and partnerships.”

However, I would argue that other types of sponsorship programs (e.g., sports, entertainment, festivals, fairs, and annual events, etc.) would be negatively impacted first. In fact, cause sponsorships could actually benefit by turbulent economic conditions.

The reasons that I believe this to be true are in line with a discussion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) during the Great Recession.

While cause sponsorships and CSR are not the same thing, they both attempt to improve the bottom line by understanding the bigger picture and improving the lives of their customers and the world, in general.

In an article that focuses on CSR in companies located in our neighbor to the north, the author makes the case that Canadian companies would actually be hurt by cutting funding for CSR programs during an economic downturn.

According to the article, “Heading into the recession, John Quelch, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, wrote extensively about the risks involved with taking an axe to CSR budgets. Many consumers, he says, have come to differentiate between brands based on the social initiatives they undertake. Moreover, once companies lose their trustworthiness on social responsibility matters, it can be very hard to get it back, warns B.C.-based corporate sustainability consultant Coro Strandberg. “You’ll lose your credibility with your own employees,” she says. “They’ll perceive it as a fad and they won’t be as engaged next time around. Your suppliers won’t believe that you’re committed and neither will your customers. Once you’re in the game, you have to stay in the game.””

The article goes on to highlight that social responsibility initiatives help restore reputations of companies that are battered by tough economic conditions.

Final Thoughts

Again, CSR and cause sponsorships are not the same thing.

However, I believe the argument for CSR in tough economic times can be extended to cause sponsorships, as well.

CSR and cause sponsorships both work to improve the reputation of the brand and thus increase business by focusing on making the world that we live in a better place. (The same could be said of cause marketing in general.)

Since it is an effective business strategy in both good and bad times, I believe that cause sponsorships, cause marketing, and CSR will all continue to get funding from businesses of all sizes.

Again, this is great news for the charitable organizations. It is also great news for the businesses that sponsor the many worthy causes out there.

But, most of all, it is great news for all of us.

As I have mentioned before, good business is good for business.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Why Is Cause-Related Marketing So Important? For Many Brands, the Answer Is Y

BusinessDictionary.com defines cause-related marketing as, “Joint funding and promotional strategy in which a firm’s sales are linked (and a percentage of the sales revenue is donated) to a charity or other public cause. However, unlike philanthropy, money spent in cause-related marketing is considered an expense and is expected to show a return.”

A recent AdAge article pointed out some statistics from two studies that highlight the importance of cause-related marketing.

The first study mentioned was the 2012 Sponsorship Report by IEG Consulting. According to that report, cause-related marketing in North America is projected to grow 3.1% this year to $1.7 billion.

The second study mentioned in the AdAge article was the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study. That study pointed out that in 2010, 83% of Americans over the age of 18 wished that more of the products, services and retailers that they use would support causes.

The last figure alone should help brands understand the importance of cause-related marketing.

For brands that sell products and services that are targeted to Gen Y consumers, cause-related marketing might be even more important.

Cause-Related Marketing and Gen Y

Generation Y (Gen Y), also known as the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), are particularly interested in supporting brands that support the causes that they care about.

In a blog post on blog.barkleyus.com, Jeff Fromm, SVP of Sales, Marketing & Innovation at Barkley, points out that, “This generation’s purchase decisions are heavily influenced by their opinions of a company’s cause marketing initiatives. They also value charitable contributions via cause marketing because of the ease of participation and the scope of impact that a corporate-based charitable program can have in comparison to an individual donation.”

Fromm goes on to mention that showing Gen Yers that the brand cares is critical for brands that are searching for ways to engage and tap into this generation of consumers.

Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., and Jayne O’Donnell also emphasize that cause-related marketing is important to Gen Y consumers.

In their book, “Gen Buy: How Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail,” (affiliate link) they state that, “Indeed, one of the more popular means of getting close to Gen Yers is through their interests and their favorite causes. Gen Yers, in part by virtue of their age but also because of our more superficial society, are yearning for purpose and want to belong to something bigger than themselves. They are often genuinely attuned to and passionate about causes, but there are other reasons why this technique has worked so well. Causes also add purpose and meaning to shopping—and sometimes just enough added benefit to rationalize a purchase. Being seen by others as being passionate about a cause is en vogue—and it unites people together.”

Yarrow and O’Donnell also point out that, “Businesses that support causes also appear to be more compassionate and socially responsible than those that don’t, which is reassuring and a stamp of quality to Gen Yers. Many Gen Yers make it their business to support the brands and retailers that they perceive to be good to their employees, good for the environment, or doing something good for the world.”

Final Thoughts

Cause-related marketing can potentially be a win-win-win for the cause, the brand, and the consumer.

The cause/nonprofit organization that the brand partners with gets support in the form of money or other resources.

The brand will hopefully get an image lift with consumers by being associated with the cause, which should translate into increased sales. (Note:  Cause-related marketing could potentially backfire if the brand comes off as insincere or hypocritical. As the AdAge article points out, brands also might not receive the desired results if the cause is not aligned with the target market.)

Finally, if the cause-related marketing campaign is properly executed, consumers benefit by being able to feel like they have made a difference as a result of making a purchase. In the process, they get a positive feeling about themselves and the brand.

As shown, Gen Y consumers are extremely receptive to cause-related marketing campaigns for many reasons.

Gen Yers are also very comfortable with technology and social media, in particular.

Therefore, if a cause-related marketing campaign resonates with them, there is a good chance that they will let others know about it online. In other words, cause-related marketing could potentially generate positive word-of-mouth mentions.

This is why brands that are trying to reach Gen Y consumers should consider adding cause-related marketing to their marketing mix.

Photo credit: becomeunreal on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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