5 Reasons You Don't Need to be a Cancer Cause to do Cause Marketing

With the month of pink finally over, a lot of causes have probably pinkwashed and brainwashed themselves that they can't do cause marketing without an official proclamation from Nancy Goodman Brinker. But here are five reasons why you're wrong--and why you should get started today.

The branding and fundraising rewards of cause marketing are not limited to cancer causes. Any cause can benefit from cause marketing. One of my favorites is Share Our Strength, a national anti-hunger organization based in Washington, D. C., which engages in cause marketing initiatives, especially with restaurants. Another is Boston-based Jumpstart, a childhood literacy group, which up to a couple years ago raised $25,000 a year with Leprechaun Lattes sold at Starbucks. I've also seen great cause marketing programs that supported animals of all kinds, seniors and victims of domestic violence. I won't say that every cause can do cause marketing (someone once asked me about cause marketing for convicts...ummm....), but I do believe 9 out of 10 is realistic.

You already have a corporate partner. Speaking of 9 out of 10, 90% of cause marketing success is about having a great partner to work with, regardless of what your cause is. When you have a partner that is committed to finding a way to work with your cause, it doesn't matter if you're not the most popular cause on the block. I think about this every time I go into a Marshalls and see their cause marketing campaigns for domestic violence awareness. It must not have been easy for Marshalls to support such a painful cause. But TJX, Marshalls' parent company, is committed, and that's what made this campaign a reality. So if you have a good company to work with, what's stopping you? The people you're trying to help don't have cancer?

Consumers will give generously to most causes. If you can get your cause marketing program to the point that a cashier is asking a shopper to support it, it doesn't really matter what your cause is, people will donate. Even though 75% of the people my hospital serve live right in Boston, some of my best cause marketing partners are retailers with stores in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Florida. Yep, you heard me right on that last one, Florida. iParty has several stores in Florida and they raise money for my hospital every year. Also, look no further than the success of St. Jude's Children Research Hospital. Despite being just a 70 bed hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, St. Jude raises tens of millions of dollars in every state in the union.

Your cause targets a different demo than women. Businesses love working with cancer causes because they can support a great cause that has a large, loyal following of women. Bingo. But aren't there other causes and key demos? Men, teens, seniors, gays. Take Ben & Jerry's Hubby Hubby cause marketing campaign in support of gay marriage. I don't see a ribbon on the ice cream container and this cause promotion wasn't just for women.

Sick of pink. I'm tired of pink. How about you? I think pink products have oversaturated the marketplace. There are businesses out there that feel just the way that you and I do, and are looking for new causes to support and new opportunities to differentiate themselves.

Don't apologize for not being a cancer charity, celebrate it. Like the bumper sticks says "Cancer Sucks."