Transparency & Cause Marketing: 5 Best Practices

Oh, really. What portion of portion of proceeds? What scientific and educational endeavors?

I saw this sign in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City last weekend. Someone in the state's Attorney General's Office needs to have a conversation with these folks.

Last month, the New York Attorney General issued guidelines entitled "Five Best Practices for Transparent Cause Marketing." It's not the first time this issue has come up. Tim Ogden and I were talking about guidelines two years ago.

The guidelines the New York Attorney General issued include:

1. Clearly describe the promotion. Which charity is benefiting from the program, how much will they receive, what consumers must do to trigger the donation and the minimum donation, if there is one, and a start and end date for the promotion.

2. Make sure consumers know how much is being donated. The guidelines suggest a “donation label” with this information.

3. Tell people what they need to know. Is the company making a flat donation instead of donation for each sale? Does the campaign have a cap, a maximum the business will donate?

4. Transparency should extend to any online fundraising promotions as well. Traditional and digital campaigns should be equally transparent.

5. Tell the public how much was raised. Use offline and online media to let people know how much each fundraiser raised.

My friend and cause marketing colleague David Hessekiel, President of Cause Marketing Forum, nicely summarizes what you need to do:

"Remember to concisely and specifically communicate the impact of that consumer action or donation in your cause messaging. Insist that your partners do the same."

Following these guidelines will ensure that consumers stay focused on raising money for your organization, instead of instilling doubt on the legitimacy of your efforts.

Looking for examples of transparent cause marketing? Check out my Pinterest boards and you'll find more than a few! If you see others good examples this holiday season, be sure to let me know here or on Twitter @joewaters.