Why Cause Marketing is the Borg

The battleground is Europe, but it really could be anywhere in the world.

Governments are out of money, and museums, historical sites and cultural institutions are turning to the private sector and to consumers to keep their doors open and visitors moving through the turnstiles.

  • Shiny electric cars sit outside one Rome museum after a business paid $110,000 for a sponsorship.
  • The Louvre in Paris is exploring licensing its name to a line of elegant watches.
  • In Spain an art museum is saving money on electricity by promoting its electric company partners.

Everyone talks about the growing reliance on corporate partnerships, but it's only the beginning of the commerce and consumerism nonprofits will have to adopt to survive.

And cause marketing will be part of the vanguard.

With government funding decreasing annually and limits on how much donors will pay for tickets to a gala or an exhibition, nonprofits have to be more creative than ever in generating revenue, exploring untapped assets and watching expenses.

Beautifully situated on the left side of the Siene, the Musée d'Orsay has leveraged its location for profit by displaying giant posters for Air France and even H&M Clothing.

The days of going hat-in-hand are over as nonprofits have to hold onto their hats--and keep their heads--amid charges and retreats, victories and setbacks. Cause marketing may straddle both cause and commerce, but consumerism and elitism will always be wary of the other.

Will my favorite painting at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Watson & the Shark, soon be sponsored by Charlie the Tuna?

Will I really care? I'm not sure. But I am sure of this. Resistance is futile.