Cause marketing and social sustainability, Part 1 - A blog by Peter Korchnak

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Cause marketing and social sustainability, Part 1 - A blog by Peter Korchnak

This commentary can be found originally at: Sustainable Marketing Blog by Peter Korchnak. Better triple bottom line.
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Cause marketing and social sustainability, Part 1


The 3BL Media blog roll is a select list of the most influential, respected, and authoritative voices in corporate social responsibility. Compiled from the 3BL Media staff’s extensive contacts with longtime CSR commentators, these bloggers offer relevant news, opinions, and ideas about all things CSR in one convenient place. 

Monday, December 21, 2009 - 7:56am


With the holiday shopping season nearing its holy climax, what better time to evaluate from the business perspective the viability of cause marketing for social sustainability. Does cause marketing work? How to get the most from it?

Define: Cause marketing

Cause or cause-related marketing is a company’s “marketing effort creating a public association with a social or charitable cause or organization to promote the company’s product/service and raise money for the cause or organization”.

Cause marketing may take several forms for the participating company, with the nonprofit partner earning money in a variety of direct or indirect ways:

  • Advertising/PR - promoting the cause or strategic partnership
  • Sponsorship - funding a program
  • Licensing - paying to use the nonprofit partner’s brand
  • Paid endorsement – paying to receive public endorsement or certification
  • Commission - donating a percentage of revenues
  • Affiliate marketing – compensating the nonprofit partner for funneled customers or sales
  • Facilitated giving – asking customers to donate to the supported cause or nonprofit

Regardless of its form, cause marketing entails an exchange of promotion for money. For companies, cause marketing is a promotional effort.

Thumb up on cause marketing

Cause marketing has several potential benefits for the participating business:

  • improved brand awareness and image
  • media coverage and other public relations benefits
  • public recognition
  • alignment with causes customers support
  • employee engagement
  • talent attraction and retention
  • resulting higher sales

If done right — and there are many pitfalls to execution — cause marketing is a winner for companies.

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