Cause Marketing Limits Raise More Money

Seth Godin wrote last week on the importance of setting a ceiling of support for donors less they opt out all together.

As [marketers of causes] approach people with $10,000 or $100,000 in the bank, this fear of not seeing a limit is very real, and if it's not confronted, they will fail at both raising the money and generating satisfaction for the donor.

If donors don't feel like their support will make a difference or make them feel good, they will "avert their eyes."

Seth contends that fewer people will turn away and a new class of significant donors could rise if they had a ceiling set for them.

And what better way to accomplish this than through cause marketing (as I define it, not as Seth discusses it, which is more the "marketing of causes.")

  • Cause marketing isn't blue-blooded philanthropy. It's red-blooded. It's fundraising for the masses that either asks shoppers for a small donation when they checkout, or makes a donation to their favorite causes when they purchase a product.
  • Cause marketing asks always have a ceiling. Donate a buck, two bucks. That's it. Buy a coffee a dime goes to Haiti. People generally know what they're getting and it's an easy gift that can add up and make a real difference.
  • And speaking of adding up, how great would it be if consumers who really wanted to use cause marketing as their primary way of giving, had a way of tracking their support from store to store. Perhaps through their credit card and the UPC codes on the back of pinups and cause items.

The power of limits is just one of the reasons you should have a set dollar amount for your cause marketing programs. You should be clear on how much you want the consumer to contribute, whether that be a $1, $2 or even $5. Having a set ask amount makes it easier for them to give. If you let them choose they'll either give you pocket change and lint or balk because they'll think you want too much.

The only retailer I've worked with that didn't always ask for a specific dollar amount is Ocean State Job Lots. They like to ask their customers to give what they can in hopes they'll give more than a buck. But I think their shoppers gravitate to the buck they give at most stores. I also think Ocean State cashiers end up directing shoppers to the standard dollar donation. "Most people give a buck."

For Seth, it's all about telling people where the end lies and how much is enough. He goes on to say that that this is true whether you're trying to persuade people to join a gym or go on a diet, among other things.

Consider that a city like Boston went from having a handful of health clubs 15 years ago to 20 or more today. And some of these clubs get a $130 and up a month in dues. Through the years the industry convinced people that having a gym membership and paying a hefty monthly fee was the standard, especially for young professionals. Rent, food, phone, and, yeah, health club.

A similar standard for giving is within our grasps with cause marketing if we look beyond its impulsive, transactional nature and treat it as a real way to grow consumer support for causes. Critics worry that donor support for cause marketing will drain other forms of giving. But perhaps cause marketing is the vast gold mine buried beneath our feet that will enrich us all.