“Cause marketing is part of the solution to change behavior.”

August 8, 2018 Kim Lynes

As Paula Berezin (CEO and Chief Strategist) and Alison Canavan (Senior Strategist) of Social Capital advised in our recent webinar around best-in-class partnerships, the world is changing in how partnerships work between companies and nonprofits. The reason? Corporate partners are beginning to surpass their role as “grantmakers”, and nonprofits are evolving from their traditional role of “implementer” or “funding recipient”. In partnerships today, companies and nonprofits are coming together as co-investors to solve a problem, and that requires each party to take on multiple roles within that partnership.

Driving this expanding role of partnerships within the private and social sectors are several items, identified by Social Impact in our webinar. One reason for deeper partnerships is that the most successful partnerships are multifaceted, which requires coordination beyond the granting of funds. Partners are looking for social and business impact, and the greater the business impact, the more sustainable the partnership. Multifaceted partnerships have demonstrated the ability to improve market share.

A multifaceted partnership begins with a cause and a partner coming together with shared values and objectives, co-creating a 360-degree partnership that leverages shared resources and brain trusts. That means a partner going beyond their philanthropic or CSR commitments, activating employees and consumers and leveraging their brands or lines of business to grow the impact of the partnership. There are several examples of large brands doing this, and particularly a trend of partners or donors investing in issues (or going deeper with fewer causes). Examples of businesses focusing their resources more strategically, aligning with issues that make sense for their business, are Target and Wellness, and Walmart and Hunger.

Converting this area of focus into marketing language is important for a company to garner support from fundraisers and supports, which is a key goal of cause partnerships. Companies are beginning to lead with impact and outcomes, identifying their end goal, and translating that into language that will resonate with the public. In the chart below, you can see UNICEF as an example. They are committed to the idea of zero preventable childhood deaths and are counting down to that number from the current statistic of 26k children dying a day from preventable deaths. For their marketing, they use “Children first”.

Lead with Impact

Hear four other trends that are key to successful partnerships, as well as key next steps both nonprofits and companies can take to achieve successful partnerships that are impactful, in the full webinar here. As Paula highlighted in the 30 minute discussion, cause marketing and associated messaging can be just as important as funding, and the success of multifaceted partnerships certainly reflects that.


Want to learn more? Join Paula Berezin and her partner Mark Berezin at bbcon, where they will be expanding on partnerships around brain trusts, employee engagement, and cause marketing.

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