My Guidelines for Cause Marketing Proposals

Over the past few weeks I've gotten a lot of questions about how to prepare and use cause marketing proposals. Here are some answers! First, know when to use them. Proposals are not for first meetings. We greet prospects with paper in hand, but it's blank. It's time to listen and explore. We save our proposals for later after we better idea of objectives.

Be transparent on responsibilities. Everyone wants to know what they have to do. We always make sure partners have a checklist to work from. This list is generally must-do items that only they can execute, like monitoring and motivating cashiers to sell pinups. We handle the rest. The key is for partners to understand what they have to do that's critical to the success of the program that no one else can do except them.

Include everything. Our partnerships tend to have a lot of moving parts (e.g. point of sale, event, cross-promotion, etc.). Make sure this is all broken out and explained in the proposal.

The proposal isn't about you. Save that for the agreement. It's about your partner. So make sure to include the examples, the metrics and the benefits a partner needs to turn your proposal into an agreement.

Be clear on money. How will they raise money? Put it in the proposal. Do you have agreed on amount? Put it in the proposal. What if they don't reach that amount? Put it in the proposal. How long after the promotion will you to wait to receive the money? You get the point.

Learn from others. I share my cause marketing proposals in my Six Figure Cause Marketing webinar. And since I just completed a webinar, and am planning another for September, I'm reserving those for my clients. However, I did find several good examples on the web. The first is from Make-a-Wish/Michigan. This application for a cause marketing program has a lot of the fields you'll need to cover in a proposal. Also, check out the terms and conditions, which you might find useful to your own proposal.

The next one is from Livestrong, which reports they are not currently accepting applications for cause marketing partnerships (must be nice!). Nevertheless, they have an extensive application that will give you a lot of great ideas for your proposal.

Have legal review it. Fortunately, we have a legal team at my nonprofit that can review the language of our proposals, when needed. If you don't have onsite legal counsel, ask a lawyer on your board for help or invest in it. It sometimes seems like overkill, but it's worth it, especially when you're new to cause marketing.

Proposals don't close deals, you do. Too often people think if they wallpaper their contacts with proposals they'll eventually land a sale. That never works. You're the most important piece in presenting and closing the deal with a prospect. The proposal is just a nail. You're the hammerer. That's one reason why you should never ever mail or email your proposals. You need to be there to drive them home.

What other questions do you have about preparing and using cause marketing proposals?