358 Million Reasons to Love Checkout Programs

358 million. That's how many dollars were collected with checkout programs in 2012.

Checkout programs are what I call point-of-sale programs, but I kind of like David Hessekiel's term better. As founder and president of Cause Marketing Forum, he's the one who released a study on these programs at last week's Cause Marketing Forum's conference in Chicago.

These programs are so successful, David only focused on programs that raised a million dollars or more. He found 63 of them. You can read the full report here, and it really is worth the read.

Here's what businesses and nonprofits need to know about checkout programs.

These programs really work. And when I mean work they can raise a lot of money. The proof is in these 63 programs. But think of all the programs that raise less than a million. As a local cause marketer here in Boston, I never raised more than $300,000 with a checkout program. Add these smaller programs in and you're talking tens of millions of dollars more raised with checkout programs.

Emotion wins at the register. Maybe that's why 47 percent of the dollars raised went to children's causes, such as Children's Miracle Network and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. You only have a second or two to win over customers with your ask, lead with a strong emotional message.

Businesses with lots of foot traffic, locations do best. Most of the dollars raised from checkout programs come from chains of department stores, restaurants and supermarkets. David's report features big companies like Walmart and Sam's Club, but chains of any size are good candidates. You just need to be realistic on how much you will raise when a chain has six or sixty locations instead of 600 or 6,000!

Checkout programs can take several forms. Pinups, register programs, donation boxes and round-up programs. You can find examples of all of these on this blog and on my Pinterest boards.

Incentives work at checkout. Coupons, discounts and free items are always popular with consumers. But don't forget incentives for employees. Small thank yous from t-shirts to pizza parties to gift cards will keep employees asking that all-important question: "Would you like to donate a dollar to ___________?".

Checkout programs need company. I've concluded after many years of running checkout programs that businesses asking consumers for money at checkout isn't enough. I've made the argument elsewhere that it is, but ultimately it doesn't pass the smell test with consumers. Companies need to combine asking with giving. That means dipping into their own pockets to support their favorite causes AND tapping their customer base for gifts.

What are your favorite checkout programs? I'm always looking for good local programs to write about!

Photo: Walmart Corporate via Flickr

Cause Talk Radio Ep52: #CMF13: Where Companies and Causes Meet for Good

On today's show, Megan and I talk to David Hessekiel, Founder and President of Cause Marketing Forum.

David shares what's on tap for the May CMF Conference in Chicago, including my session on Cause Marketing for Small to Medium Sized Businesses and Nonprofits.

He also gives us a peak into keynotes by LIVESTRONG CEO Doug Ulman, Andy Goodman on storytelling and J. Walker Smith on industry trends. Finally, David talks about his recent cause marketing speaking trip to China, for which he kept a wonderful travel blog.

Tune in now and I hope you can join David, Megan and me at the CMF conference on May 29 and 30!

Good Works! is a Great Book for Companies & Causes

Good works There's a great new book out for cause and corporate marketers: Good Works! Marketing and Corporate Initiatives that Build a Better World...and the Bottom Line. It's authored by Philip Kotler, David Hessekiel and Nancy Lee. I don't know Philip and Nancy, but I know a lot about David. David has been a friend and mentor of mine for many years. But if you work in the field or follow my blog you know him as the president of Cause Marketing Forum, the #1 destination for business and nonprofit leaders that want to help others and boost the bottom line.

This is an exciting new book for marketers as we finally have a place where David has shared his experiences, insights and advice on cause marketing and corporate partnerships. This book takes you from start to finish on why doing well by doing good is no longer optional, through developing a program and measuring the results.

Some of the chapters I really enjoyed included:

Chapter 4: Cause-Related Marketing: Making Contributions to Causes Based on Product Sales and Consumer Actions

This chapter has a clear explanation of the transactional programs I write about on my blog and nine great examples of model programs. The authors also include a useful section at the end on When Should Cause-Related Marketing be Considered.

Chapters 9 - 14: Offense and Defense

These five chapters take you from choosing a social problem to tackle to developing a program to evaluating your success and dealing with critics and cynics. The latter is particularly helpful as consumers are more closely scrutinizing cause marketing programs. These chapters are a great addition to the conversation around cause as companies are looking for more step by step advice to get started and to stay on course with good works.

Chapter 15: A Marketing Approach to Winning Corporate Funding and Support for Social Initiatives: Ten Recommendations

I love this chapter, which is prefaced with the heading For Nonprofits and Public Sector Agencies Only. It also has a wonderful quote from one of my idols, Share Our Strength's Billy Shore, that every cause marketer should memorize. The authors' ten recommendations are really commandments that nonprofits shouldn't break (I've added the Old Testament language).

Thou shall develop a list of social issues that your organization or agency is currently charged with supporting

Hallelujah! The process starts within, not without!

Thou shall listen to their business needs.

Thank you, Philip, David and Nancy. No, nonprofits, it's not all about you. Zip it.

Thou shall handle as much of the administrative legwork as possible.

Yes! Don't give partners an excuse to say no.

David and his co-authors have written a book that is interesting, comprehensive and most of all, useful. This book is wonderful read on its own. But do yourself a favor and read it with my other favorite cause marketing book, Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding by Jocelyne Daw, Carol Cone, Kristian Darigan Merenda and Ann Erhard.

Together, the two books combine principles with purpose to give companies and causes the tools they need to build a better world.

CauseTalk Radio Ep07: Automated Giving: Super Strategy or Slacktivism?

In this episode of Cause Talk Radio, Megan and I chat with John Ludlow, Chief Strategy Officer for Snoball.com about automated giving. We learn more about the Snoball platform, pontificate about why embedded giving is the wave of the future, dismiss claims of slacktivism, and speculate about ways that automated giving can become a cause marketer's dream.

I also suggest best practices for phone greetings…be sure to stay tuned all the way to the end of the episode for these valuable gems!



I generally don’t recommend QR codes for web pages. You might as well use a plain old hyperlink. But if you’re planning to listen to CauseTalk Radio on the go, scan the above code with your mobile device and you’ll always have a direct link to our podcasts on iTunes.



Cause Marketing Forum's Annual Conference

Live Blogging from Cause Marketing Forum - Day 2


What a great Cause Marketing Forum Conference this year. Day two featured an excellent lineup with lots of good and interesting speakers. My favorite speaker of the day was Kami Watson Huyse, President of Zoetica, who presented on best practices in cause-related social media. You can find her slides here. Among other things, if you’re looking for solid information and direction on how to best compete in online contests, Kami is the woman to talk to. Great job, Kami!

Other notable presentations were Nancy Lublin from DoSomething.org who talked about the good, bad and ugly of cause marketing. Nancy had some strong opinions—such as how some agencies are misleading and overcharging their nonprofit clients—that didn’t sit well with some of the people I spoke to during the break. But her cutting criticisms of industry practices confirmed what I’ve always said about public speaking: the world isn’t black and white, but the best speeches are.

Charles Best from DonorsChoose.org, a Cause Marketing Forum Golden Halo Award Winner, also impressed me. I know little about the organization, but Charles’ speech inspired me to learn more. Expect a post on DC’s cause marketing work soon.

I taught two “powerful discussions” on location-based cause marketing that were a lot of fun. A big thanks to Chris Noble and Joey Leslie who attended the first session and added much to the discussion—including interpreting my Boston accent for attendees.

I thought this 9th Annual Cause Marketing Forum Conference was excellent – the best yet for me. Here’s why.

  • Arriving at the hotel on the last day of the International Mister Leather Conference was a real feast for the eyes. Leathermen, the scent of leather is with me still, and I will never look the same way at a man wearing black leather short-shorts with matching suspenders and hat ever again.
  • The hotel was great. See my post on the pre-conference for more details. It’s the people who make a stay nice and I was impressed with the staff at the Hyatt. There was lots of space in this hotel—the largest Hyatt in the world, I was told. So whether it was listening to presenters in the main ballroom or networking in the lobby, we had some much needed elbow room. Oh, and I thought the food was great!
  • I really enjoyed many of the presentations this year. I made an extra effort to stay in the main ballroom and listen instead of drifting out to the lobby area to chat. But I also thought we had plenty of breaks for networking.
  • The very best addition this year was a clock to keep speakers on time. The folks at CMF are genius! I never felt stuck in a so-so presentation because I knew it would soon end and not go on forever, a hallmark of bad speeches. Note to speakers: it’s quality, not quantity. Stand up. Speak powerfully. Sit down!
  • The addition of “powerful discussions” was excellent and offered something for everyone. Mine had around a dozen people. A great size for talking and Q&A.

I’m sure the CMF team already has lots of ideas on how to improve the event next year, which will be the 10th anniversary of the conference. But they made great strides this year, and not just with the conference. The CMF website has been upgraded, it has an interesting blog and active Twitter handle.

I like that CMF is deeply committed to improving the conference. When they see problems, they fix them. When they see opportunities they pursue them.

My only wish is that more people would attend the Cause Marketing Forum Conference to see what a great event it is and to take advantage of the wonderful resources it offers for cause marketers in both the nonprofit and for-profit world.

I hope to see you there in 2012!

Live Blogging from the Cause Marketing Forum Conference

Pre-Conference Update

I flew into Chicago today so I could be ready for the for the Hospital Corporate Development Summit tomorrow morning. This second-year workshop is just one of three programs that will be held on Wednesday before the opening reception tomorrow evening and the full conference on Thursday.

I had a long, expensive cab ride from O'Hare Airport as I arrived during morning rush. It cost me $50! Fortunately, the hotel has a shuttle that leaves every half hour or so so the ride back will be free. [Update: Not free, according to Megan Strand. Cheaper than a cab, but you also make "92 stops at the airport." I think we can say there are a lot of stops, but maybe not 92.]

The conference has a new home this year: the Hyatt Regency Hotel. This is a huge hotel with over 2000 rooms! It's well situated for downtown, shopping at The Magnificent Mile and the lake. Oh, and it's a good place to enjoy the conference!

The hotel had an interesting vibe this morning as another convention was wrapping up. The International Mister Leather Conference was held at the hotel this year. Of course, I only had one thought when I saw all these leathermen: what a great group for cause marketing! I'll be pitching the organizers on Chaps for a Cause next year.

My room at the Hyatt is very nice. Wifi isn't free, unfortunately. But I'm checking with the CMF team to see if it will be the day of the conference.

Speaking of the CMF team, I saw Dave Hessekiel, Megan Strand and the rest of the gang and they are busy planning another great conference.

If you plan to work out while you're at the conference, the Hyatt has a very well equipped gym with treadmills, bikes, stairmasters, weight machines and dumbbells. They don't have a pool, but I'm told the health club right next door does and the hotel may have a special deal with them.

If you'd rather get outside for you workout or walk, Millennium Park is right down the street. I had a great run up by The Shedd, Chicago's first-rate aquarium.

Remember, if you're tweeting about the conference, the hashtag is #CMF11. And be sure to follow @TweetCMF for any conference details!

photo 3
photo 3

Finally, if you're like me and just need your Starbucks everyday, there is one close to the hotel at 225 North Michigan Avenue at the corner of Lake Street. They do brew Starbucks at the hotel, but I wouldn't drink this swill even if you were buying. Just sayin.