What Is Cause Marketing?

Businesses everywhere are starting to realize that customers want to know how their favorite companies are giving back and using their influence to do good. People are more likely to engage with a brand they see as socially responsible and concerned about their communities, which is why many organizations are adopting cause marketing to humanize their brand and show how much they care.

Simply put, cause marketing is a mutually beneficial partnership between an organization and a non-profit. Cause marketing can also involve a specific marketing campaign by an organization that benefits a non-profit. These campaigns usually focus on a social or charitable cause to show a cause that the company cares about and boost the non-profit’s visibility.

At Avalaunch Media, we’re making cause marketing a core focus for 2023. Read on to discover why we and other businesses are heading in this direction.

Cause Marketing vs. Cause-Related Marketing

Now that you’re familiar with cause marketing, you may have also heard of cause-related marketing. In all meaningful ways, these terms mean essentially the same thing and are often used interchangeably. 

Cause marketing was coined in 1983 when American Express decided to raise money to restore the Statue of Liberty. They made a small donation to the restoration every time someone used their charge card. They raised $1.7 million for the restoration, and people using their American Express card rose by 27% during the campaign.

Cause-related marketing is more often used in the United Kingdom and India. That is the only real difference between cause marketing and cause-related marketing.

The Benefits of Cause Marketing

Cause marketing benefits both the organization and the non-profit — the non-profit benefits from the additional exposure and brand awareness. Non-profits, especially the smaller ones, usually have a small budget for marketing. Partnering with a small business or organization can benefit them greatly in increasing awareness of who they are and what they stand for. It helps them get in front of consumers who might not otherwise see them. 

The organization receives numerous benefits, too. They can:

  • Improve their organizational reputation
  • Build community relationships
  • Increase brand loyalty
  • Stand out from the competition
  • Improve employee morale

Let’s look a little closer at each of these in turn.

Improve Organizational Reputation

Companies will use cause marketing as a public relations strategy to increase customer loyalty and attract new customers. It can also help improve a company’s image after receiving a negative response to something it has done (or hasn’t done).

Build Community Relationships

A company can use cause marketing to build relationships within a local community. This is useful for small businesses, especially if they are new to a city. They can find a local cause to support and get their name out there as well. An example might be a local accountant helping a local little league team. 

Increase Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty can be tracked during the cause marketing campaign to determine if the campaign is successful. A cause marketing campaign can increase brand loyalty when the company supports a cause that its customers are passionate about. If they support the cause full-time instead of during a specific marketing campaign, they will likely keep customers returning for the long term.

Stand Out From the Competition

You can stand out amongst your competitors when you give customers what they want. It’s important to customers that companies show they’re passionate about the world around them, too, and not just in it for the all-mighty dollar. When you invest in supporting a cause, you can stand out from the competition and get customers’ attention that may have otherwise purchased elsewhere. 

Improve Employee Morale

Not only are customers passionate about causes, but your employees are also. When you get employees involved and feeling like they are making a difference, they become happier employees. When employee morale goes up, productivity is soon to follow.

How to Strategize a Successful Cause Marketing Campaign

When done correctly, a cause marketing campaign benefits you and your non-profit partner. Cause marketing is especially beneficial to a small business that needs to get its name out there to generate business, as it helps to build brand awareness and gets your name in front of people that would not otherwise see you.

Keep in mind, however, that a cause-related marketing campaign is a strategic endeavor, so it’s essential to have a plan before launching your campaign to ensure that you and the cause you are supporting benefit and get the most out of your partnership.

Let’s discuss what you need to make your cause-related marketing campaign successful.

Define Your Cause

When defining your cause, you should identify a partner that reflects your company values. While there are many examples where a partnership seems to make sense, it is harder to build brand loyalty and appear as though the association is genuine when the partnership doesn’t make sense. An example of a partnership that doesn’t make sense would be a major restaurant chain partnering with a non-profit that donates shoes to homeless kids. Those kids also need to eat, so partnering with a non-profit that feeds homeless kids makes more sense.

Your audience can have a lot to do with the non-profit you decide to partner with. The same reasons they come to you would make them want to be involved in the non-profit you are supporting. 

The non-profit you choose to partner with will have an impact on your employees as well. If it is a non-profit that they also care about, they will work harder during the campaign, enhancing the outcomes for you and the non-profit.

Determine How You Will Help

There are many ways to help your cause. When you partner with your non-profit, find out what they need. Money is an easy and obvious solution here and works great when you are getting your customers involved, too. But there are other ways you can help a non-profit besides financial contributions. Depending on your organization and what you have to offer, some of the additional ways you can help a non-profit might include:

  • Photography for social media
  • Event planning
  • Volunteer groups from your company
  • Sponsoring a charity function
  • Helping them with their marketing efforts
  • Donations of products and services

If you are partnering with a non-profit and not getting the public involved, you can easily assist with any of the above and toot your own horn about it (so to speak). If you want your customers involved, monetary donations are the way to go. Like the American Express example, a little goes a long way. You can donate a portion of all proceeds of a specific product or give customers a chance to make a small donation themselves when they make a purchase.

Work With a Non-Profit Partner

When you and a non-profit partner decide to work together, you should both promote the partnership to ensure that the campaign gets more traction. 

You both want to get the most out of the partnership, so you must strategize together. To make your campaign successful, you should develop a joint omnichannel marketing campaign for the furthest reach. You can make customers aware of the partnership by:

  • Announcing the affiliation in a newsletter from each company
  • Tagging each other on social media
  • Blogging about the experience you each had
  • Writing guest blogs for each other’s blogs
  • Using each other’s logos in marketing campaign materials
  • Sending a joint press release to news outlets announcing the partnership

Get Your Audience Involved

While your audience may love your brand because you support a cause they love, too, they will be even more brand loyal if you give them a chance to participate in the cause-related marketing campaign. There are several ways you can get your audience involved in your campaign. Customers can participate by:

  • Donating to the cause
  • Participating in an event (Think American Express’s Small Business Saturday)
  • Interacting with the non-profit you are supporting
  • Helping you spread the word by sharing your social media posts

Let your audience be a driving force behind your campaign, and watch the support for the non-profit and your company soar. You will want to track your donors; a customer relationship management (CRM) can help you do this. Once the campaign is over, help solidify their brand loyalty by sending them a quick thank you note for their participation. They will be excited at being recognized instead of feeling like a small fish in a big pond and that their contributions went unnoticed.

Well-Known Cause Marketing Examples

Aveda’s Partnership With Charity: Water

Aveda offers an annual cause marketing partnership with Charity: Water to promote clean drinking water for everyone. They have been working together since 1999 and have raised over $69 million to bring clean drinking water to those who would not otherwise have it.

Bombas Buy a Pair, Give a Pair Campaign

For every pair of Bombas socks, pair of underwear, or t-shirts purchased, they give another of the exact item to one of over 3,500 giving partners they work with across the United States to provide these same items to people in need. The donated item may go to:

  • Overnight shelters
  • Transitional living facilities
  • Street outreach teams
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Title 1 schools
  • Medical service professionals

So, when you purchase from Bombas, you can feel good that you warmed not only your feet but the feet of someone else who otherwise wouldn’t have them.

Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives

This is an example of a company partnering with a charity that doesn’t necessarily make sense but was a huge success. The Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives campaign was created to raise money for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer awareness campaign. 

They changed the lids of their yogurt to pink covers and encouraged people to send the lids in for a ten-cent donation to the charity. They promoted the campaign with paid and earned media. They expanded the campaign to include other brands and raised $26 million for breast cancer research.


Cause marketing is an excellent initiative for companies to show the world the causes they care about. It increases their social responsibility in the eyes of their customers, and customers will give their loyalty in return. Nonprofits benefit by getting their name in front of potential donors they wouldn’t have otherwise. 

You can support a cause in many ways, from sponsoring a local team to raising money and awareness about clean water for everyone to even giving your time and resources to help a small non-profit market their business. The possibilities are endless. Just make sure the world knows about your cause marketing campaign, and customers will help you promote it any way they can.

If you need help launching or running a cause marketing campaign, the teams at Avalaunch Media are here to help. Contact us to get started today. 

One thought on “What Is Cause Marketing?

  1. John Dev says:

    Cause marketing is a powerful way to align your brand with a cause and show your commitment to making a positive impact. This strategy not only benefits the community, but it also benefits your business by boosting your brand reputation and customer loyalty. By highlighting your efforts to give back, you can inspire others to join in and create a ripple effect of positive change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *