6 Cause Marketing Promotions You Can Learn From

I'm always finding good examples of cause marketing on Twitter. I have a few open searches on Tweetdeck that capture most of them. The great people I follow on Twitter send me the rest. I had these seven cause marketing promotions saved in my "favorites." They offer something for everyone. Pay attention!

Toys "R" Us Speaks Up for Autism

Since 2007 this point-of-sale campaign has raised a whopping $8.4 mi. Shoppers that donate $10 or more receive a free reusable shopping bag designed by artist James Hogarth (who has autism).

What you can learn: With over 800 stores in the United States, Toys "R" Us highlights the key ingredients of point-of-sale success: lots of locations and lots of foot traffic. The program also uses a small incentive to encourage and reward gifts.

Be a Hero at 31 Cent Scoop Night

On April 27th Baskin-Robbins stores across the country held a 31 Scoop Night to honor America's firefighters. The ice cream chain reduced prices of small ice cream scoops to 31 cents creating an opportunity for customers to donate to local fire charities.

What you can learn: Cause marketing just doesn't raise money, it provides causes with a platform to succeed. The Baskin-Robbins promotion drives traffic to stores where local firefighters can collect donations and visit with the community. Corporate partners have more to offer than just money. Look for the larger opportunity the partnership offers and plan your program accordingly.

Barnum's Animal Crackers Teams Up with Lily Pulitzer for Urban Arts

This year 1.5 million boxes of animal crackers are being distributed in Pulitzer-branded outlets. Barnum's will make a donation to the Urban Arts Partnership, reflecting the Pulitzer brand's 2011 "Lily Loves the Arts" theme. The Urban Arts Partnership sponsors interdisciplinary arts programs through school, professional development and summer programs, as well as other venues.

What you can learn: This is fun, whimsical cause marketing promotion. The fact that you can get the animal cracker boxes in Pulitzer's stores is offbeat and will be win-win-win for company, cause and consumer. Have you heard of the Urban Arts Partnership? Neither have I. It demonstrates that you don't need to be a household name to do cause marketing. But you do need what every cause marketing program requires: a corporate partner that wants to help you. Any nonprofit do cause marketing, if you have a partner. If you do, what are you waiting for?

Popeyes' "Appetite for the Cure" for MDA

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen’s “Appetite for a Cure’’ coupon book program in 143 restaurant locations raised a record $421,917 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association during the first quarter of 2011.

What you can learn: "Appetite for the Cure" could just as well taken the place of Toys "R" Us' campaign for Autism Speaks as it too illustrates the power of partnering with busy stores with lots of locations and adding a little incentive for shoppers (in Popeyes' case coupons). But there's a more important lesson here: there's nothing wrong with working with quick serve businesses like Popeyes. You may point to Buckets for the Cure to caution causes in their choice of partners. Please, there were many good, productive ways Kentucky Fried Chicken and Komen could have worked together. But selling pink buckets of fried chicken and launching the promotion the same week as the dreadful Double Down wasn't one of them. What Komen did in partnering with KFC was no different than what dozens of other causes have done. The issue was how the program was executed.

Like Woodchuck Cider on Facebook They'll Plant 2 Trees with American Forest

During Earth Week, Woodchuck Cider scored 6,809 new likes and will plant 13,618 trees through American Forests.

What you can learn: Facebook cause marketing can be very successful for cause and company, but it won't happen unless you already have an engaged online community. Prior to the promotion, Woodchuck Cider had 27,000 "likes" while American Forest had fewer than 1,700. This gave Woodchuck a running start. Cause marketing can't make a new Facebook page successful, but it can take a good one to new heights.

Spa & Salon Host Cut-a-thon to Raise Funds for Children's Hospital Boston

For a minimum donation of $40 on Sunday, May 15, Hair stylists from the spa and salon will be hosting a HAIRraising and donating their cutting and styling services to raise funds for Children's Hospital Boston.

What you can learn: This reminds me of the PUMA promotion I profiled on marathon day here in Boston. My point here is the same: any business can do cause marketing, although it works best with business-to-consumer companies that have storefronts and foot traffic.

There's always way for a cause to work with a business and engage consumers, employees, even vendors. It just takes a little knowledge, imagination and a few good examples from which to learn.