Cause Marketing & The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Ad Age posted an interesting article the other day about how every company--large and small--is turning to microsponsor -ships--small consumer driven cause marketing programs that raise hundreds or thousands of dollars--to support everything from breast cancer research to earthquake relief for Haiti and now Chile. I call microsponsorships the "fortune at the bottom of the pyramid" because they are simple, easy and spontaneous. And as my favorite author Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, it's only in these actions that we are strong.

Here's how microsponsorships will lead to stronger nonprofits and a better society.

More dollars for smaller nonprofits. Why should the big causes rake in all the dough? But that's exactly what's been happening. National charities like Komen, St. Jude and Children's Miracle Network swoop in to town and gobble up all the national chains for their far-reaching cause marketing programs. But with microsponsorships, companies of all sizes are using cause marketing to fund local causes that are just as worthy of support.

Better accountability and more transparency. As consumers are exposed to more cause marketing programs, they'll demand more information on what's being supported and how much money is going to the cause. Web sites, blogs, widgets and apps will spring up giving the consumer info on how to give wisely at their favorite shops, stores and restaurants.

Companies that don't support good causes will be bad people. A harsh judgment for sure, but forcing more companies to take a stand on what they really care about and to support a cause will be a good thing for everyone, including the company. Giving through these companies will take many forms, not just transactional cause marketing. Adults will become more passionate about giving. They'll share this spirit with their children. Ills will be addressed. The world will be a better place.

Companies will put values first, alignment second. Leave it to Ad Age to say that "Even tiny sponsorships have to be closely associated with your brand." This Garanimal strategy has a vitamin store chain working with a nonprofit that supplies third-world countries with vitamins. Cute, but does that cause really speak to the company's values? Microsponsorships will allow stores, franchises and regional offices to escape the marketing gestapo at headquarters and to support causes that really resonate with them--and probably with the customers they know better than anyone else.

Some people worry that microsponsorships will mean we won't be able to go anywhere without being asked to give. You mean like how every where I go now I see advertising? Or deal with people on their cell phones? Being asked to give to good causes where ever I go? I can deal with that.