"Create-A-Sweater" Pinups Weave Bonds Between Kids, Seniors

It's nice when you can end the week knowing you helped someone. Sharna Fulton helped me. I helped Sharna Fulton. Together we helped someone else. Sharna helped me many years ago when she was in the sports pottery business in Atlanta and I needed a quick turnaround on a gift for my wife.

She kindly saved a husband's life so he could be late with a gift another holiday.

I don't remember how but we got to talking about cause marketing (maybe because I talk about it with everyone I meet even if they don't want to), but through the years she read my blog and we talked about various programs. We even got to meet one year when she and her husband visited Boston, joining the hosptial's Boston Marathon team at its pre-race pasta party.

We kept in touch, and continued to talk about trends in cause marketing.

Yesterday she tweeted:

Cause mktg, pin-ups, art education come together to help seniors thx to influence of @JoeWaters

The blog post she shared with me is great. You can read it for yourself, but here's the cause marketing piece.

Students at JC Magill have signed on to our  “Create-A-Sweater” pin-up program. They’ll color, design, exhibit and sell these pin-ups at school for 1.00 each. Alternative Home Care for Seniors will, in turn, match every donation from Magill dollar for dollar up to $1,000.00. All the funds and sweaters raised will go to Gwinnett County Senior Services, the agency that helps seniors in need so they can continue to live independently at home.

What a great program! I'm embarrassed I never thought of having kids make cause marketing pinups. (Although earlier this year I did write about A. C. Moore's pinups for Easter Seals that involved an in-store crafting event.)

Sharna is a smart, creative, giving cause marketer. As a bonus, she and her husband are also Red Sox fans.

Cause Marketing in the 'Hood: Starbucks, Whole Foods

conservation international starbucks

In my travels this past weekend, I came across two cause marketing programs at two stores my family frequents a lot. The first was at Starbucks where I saw a display for the new Conservation International Starbucks Card. You load the card with dough and every time you spill the beans at Starbucks through the end of the year five cents goes to CI. I like the program, and as a Starbucks customer I admire the coffee behemoth for supporting CI's mission to protect the earth.

One program I missed in Starbucks stores this month, however, was their annual Leprechaun Latte promotion to support Boston-based Jumpstart. This was a simple cause marketing program that rewarded Jumpstart with 25 cents for every green latte sold. I reported in 2006 that the program raised $13,000.

This program was a great example of a giant company doing local cause marketing (Leprechaun Lattes were unique to New England). As a local cause marketer it gave me hope that maybe my little nonprofit could one day work with Starbucks. Now, it looks as if I may need to look for my pot of gold elsewhere.

My second stop this weekend was at Whole Foods, a grocer I've written glowingly on for their passive cause marketing programs. On this trip, however, I was pleasantly accosted by a passionate young cashier named Amanda. She asked me to support the Whole Planet Foundation, a nonprofit started by Whole Foods to help fuel economic development in poor countries, mainly through microfinancing. You could donate a $1 or $5, but if you chose the latter, Whole Foods included a chocolate bar to sweeten the deal!

I really appreciated Amanda's enthusiasm, and she shared how Whole Foods had raised $2 million to help victims from the Haiti earthquake.

Like in the passive cause marketing program I reviewed earlier this year, the signage for this program was right near the credit card machine where everyone could see it. "Empower women through micro-credit" was the call to action for this sophisticated, educated shopper. But, as in every other program I've ever run, the person at the register makes all the difference.

I wish Whole Foods would encourage more of their cashiers to "make the ask."

I wish every store had more cashiers like Amanda!

Boston Bruins Use Pinups to Score Again for Kids with HIV

The Boston Bruins are teaming up with iParty and Fuddruckers again to raise money for The SPARK Center. This program was a great success last year, raising $45,000.

The B's have been a great partner, as have iParty and Fuddruckers. While this year hasn't proven to be the dominating season last year was for the Boston Bruins, the team is still first in the hearts of all the kids, parents and staff involved with The SPARK Center.

Cause Marketing Success Story: Ocean State Raises $212,000

Back in December I told you about Ocean State Job Lot and their annual pinup programs to support the hospital. Despite a sputtering economy, Ocean State not only met its goal, it blew it away! During the month of December, Ocean State Job Lot raised $212,000! That's almost 40% more than 2008.

Moreover, these results put them on track to raise one million dollars for the hospital in just six years.

Ocean State's tag line is The Home of Adventure Shopping. The joy and enthusiasm shoppers and employees find in their stores obviously extends to their giving!

Are you planning a cause marketing program for your nonprofit? Our work with Ocean State Job Lot helped us develop the best practices for our Six Figure Cause Marketing program. I hope you’ll check it out!

Countdown to Halloween Town: The Power of Pin-Ups

The 2008 version of the Halloween Town pin-up will hit some stores as early as next week.  Some retailers like iParty prefer to get a jump start on selling them in September because October is so busy .

Selling these pin-ups prior to Halloween Town will achieves two important goals.  First, they help us raise hundreds of thousands of dollars before a ticket is ever sold at the gate at Halloween Town.  It's a good feeling to open the event with the wind at our backs and money in our pockets.  Even if Boston were struck by a hurricane on Halloween Town weekend--we survived a strong nor'easter in '06--the event would make money.  How many events can say that?  All the other for-profit Halloween events in and around Boston have just one way to make money: tickets.  Being a nonprofit has certain advantages and the ability to sell pin-ups prior to the event and raise money is a big one.

A second important goal from the the pin-ups is promotion.  Getting them into the hands of consumers is a great opportunity to publicize Halloween Town.  In the past, as many as 1in 5 attendees have said they learned of the event from the pin-up they bought.

This year we're taking pin-up promotion seriously.  We've cut back on the number of coupons on the pin-up--easy with fewer retail partners--and doubled the amount of space for promotion.  We've included a plug for our main musical act, Disney and Noggin's crazy music man Dan Zanes.  We've also included a special incentive: a coupon for a free child admission when you purchase an adult ticket. 

Special promotions like this have been a hit in a bad economy at other New England attractions, according to the Boston Globe.  The "everyone pays the kid price" promotion has been working well all summer for Six Flags.  We also share their focus on catering to young families.  In short, discounting, incentives and family entertainment are working in this challenging economy.  You'll see all three at Halloween Town.

Your big takeaway from Halloween Town is that pin-up programs are a great event enhancer.  They can draw bigger crowds and boost the bottom-line.

How would this work for your event?  Say that you have a cause walk every year to benefit your organization. But this year you recruit a local supermarket chain to sell a pin-up to support the walk.  In addition to raising more money, you'll also recruit more walkers, because each pin-up has info on how shoppers can join the walk.  The pin-ups are better advertising than any of those free ads in newspapers you get that nobody reads or television PSA's that people aren't up to see in the middle of the night.

Plus, here's a pin-up bonus: they are a great way to recruit and thank sponsors.  If your walk sponsor knows they'll get extra exposure for a few weeks via a busy retailer, or can include a coupon on the pin-up, that can be a great selling point for them.  I know it is for the for sponsors we recruit.

So don't forget the power of pin-ups when you're planning your next event.  Special events are too much work and too expensive to run to just leave money in the checkout line at the supermarket down the street.