CauseTalk Radio Ep22: Cause Marketing Goes Back to School with Target, Boys & Girls Clubs

Today, Megan and I chat with Jenna Reck of Target who explains Give With Target, the retailer's first-ever initiative that combines cause with back to school marketing, giving $2.5 million in grants as well as $2.5 million directly to schools via a Facebook voting initiative

Then Artis Stevens with Boys and Girls Clubs shares some of the smart strategy behind their comprehensive Tools for Back to School campaign involving multiple brands executing a variety of cause-related marketing tactics.

Join us as Megan and I go back to school! We promise you'll learn something.

Target, JAM'N 94.5 Use Cause Marketing to Help Kids Lift Heavy Load

I have a sad story to tell you, but it has an ending that will make you smile and give you hope.

Because my hospital serves families from some of Boston's poorest neighborhoods, we get our share of children in our emergency room who are victims of neglect and violence. Sometimes it's a toddler who arrives with a parent who's relapsed on a heroin habit. They can't care for their child anymore, and if there is no relative the child has to go to foster care.

Sadly, it happens a lot more than you think.

To help kids make the transition to their new homes, the caring people at my hospital created Pieces of Home. These good people collect new items like blankets, toys, stuffed animals, pajamas, even underwear (Remember, these kids aren't going home again. They have nothing.) and sort them by age group from infant to teen and give them to needy kids in brand new back packs.

To help kids with this heavy lift the Target in Boston and the city's #1 hip-hop radio station, JAM'N 94.5, teamed up yesterday for a backpack collection drive.

The event was a huge success. We filled hundreds of backpacks.

The promotion the gang at JAM'N 94.5 did for the drive was incredible with Ramiro, Pebbles and Melissa plugging it daily and speaking passionately about the program.

Target was a gracious host, donated nearly all the backpacks we needed and put their South Bay retail team at our disposal for the event.

We also had other generous sponsors: Converse, Lego Universe and Spinelli's. And a big thanks to Bell Biv Devoe for stopping by!

The story behind Pieces of Home is a sad one, for sure. But thanks to the Target, JAM'N 94.5 and all the people that donated, this is one dark cloud with a silver lining.

JAM'N 94.5 & Target Make Cause Marketing Wish Come True

backpacksBoston's #1 hip hop station, Jam'n 94.5, and everyone's favorite hip retailer, Target, which has a store less than a mile from the hospital, teamed up to reward some very needy kids with a great Christmas and a happy New Year. The partnership was a simple but generous arrangement. Target invited the morning show team from Jam'n 94.5 to the store for the whole day to collect items for BMC's Pieces of Home Backpack Project.

Target also donated all the backpacks for the day.

Friends, the kids these backpacks go to are in terrible straits. They are removed from their homes in emergency situations, mostly due to violence or neglect, and oftentimes have to leave without any personal belongings.

The pediatric nurses at my hospital took on the issue head-on 18 months ago.

The Pieces of Home Backpack Project collects donations to make starter kits for kids to take with them to their new homes. Each pack is filled with new items that are gender and age specific.

The kits include blankets, stuffed animals, toiletries, clothing and more.

jamn picWith a location to hold the event and packs to fill, the team at Jam'n promoted the event on air and through their respective Twitter handles: @jamn945, @ramirotorres, @pebbles945 and @melissa945.

We also did our part and promoted the event to our donors and employees through traditional and online media.

The payoff on Monday was that we reached our goal of filling 100 backpacks in the first thirty minutes of the event! We went on to fill several hundred more backpacks throughout the day.

For a hospital that helps so many needy men, women and children (50% of our patients earn less than $20,000 year) these backpacks will bring comfort and stability to a lot of kids.

Compared to a lot of the cause marketing programs my team executes this one was small, but it packed a big punch. It also reinforced a few key rules for successful local cause marketing.

People like tangible. When Target shoppers heard what we were doing, they asked us what we needed for the backpacks and shopped for us on the spot. They loved addressing a real need. This type of urgency and fulfillment should extend to every cause marketing program, whether it's a backpack donation drive or a point-of-sale program at the register.

Even when asking shoppers for a buck at the register, the request should should be personal, immediate and rewarding. "Would you like to donate a dollar to the Food Pantry at BMC so poor families can have a Thanksgiving meal?"

This tweet today from friends at MS & L Worldwide and @ecmsl reminded just how much a tangible goal can drive giving (be sure to check out the pic!):

So proud of MS&L Boston staff RT @bigguyd: Folks at @mslworldwide & @Digitas crush @thedimockcenter toy drive

Radio is key. Radio support for a cause marketing event is a fantastic promotional tool, especially when you're working with a top station like Jam'n 94.5. We had seen the power of radio before with our other events, particularly Halloween Town (another event Jam'n supported), but this event confirmed that radio works.

Don't forget in-kind. I have to admit that I'm focused on raising cash when it comes to cause marketing programs. I generally don't consider product donations. The reason is simple. While they help the hospital, they don't help the cause marketing team achieve its modest revenue goals. Shame on me for being so self-serving. Besides, not focusing on cash is a great way to engage a brand new partner, or a reluctant partner that has taken a pass on giving you money.

Target falls into this category for my nonprofit because their pinup cause marketing programs are centered around national causes, not local causes like mine.

In short, having a backpack donation drive is probably the best I can hope for from Target right now. The good news is is that their best was pretty darn good for my hospital and the needy kids we help.