The Lazy Fundraiser's Guide to Raising Six Figures This Fall

The Lazy Fundraiser's Guide to Raising Six Figures This Fall

Get started with cause marketing from the comfort of your beach towel or chair. You'll raise six-figures in September!

I’ve been relaxing in my garden.

It's been a busy year and I'm looking forward to just hanging out - and gardening - in July and August.

I’m sure you're planning your own downtime.

But I bet you're thinking of September and all that money you have to raise from businesses. I know, the boss is on your back and it's only July. I used to have a boss, too, you know. I remember the drill.

But here's something the boss won't tell you: relax, chill. I got your back.

In this post, I'll guide you to six-figure success this fall.

Let's get started by laying the groundwork of what cause marketing is (aka fundraising with businesses).

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Five Things Cause Marketers Should Do This Summer

On Tuesday I wrote a post on summer reading for fundraisers. But then I remembered that reading was just one of the things fundraisers - and cause marketers - should be doing this summer.

Here are five more ideas for the dog days of summer.

Watch the Keynote Presentations from the CMF Conference

What a deal! Give Dave and Megan three minutes of your time by answering a brief survey then you can watch all the keynote presentations at this year's Cause Marketing Forum Conference. They include:

  • LIVESTRONG CEO Doug Ulman on his group's approach to crisis management and corporate partnerships.
  • Former Ben & Jerry's and Stonyfield Farms CEO Walt Freese on managing purpose-driven brands.
  • P&G's Bryan McCleary, ANN INC.'s Catherine Fisher and MSLGROUP's Scott Beaudoin on cause efforts around the world.
  • Golden Halo Award-winner's COO Aria Finger on cause marketing and millennials.

Watching these videos in the CMF library would generally cost you $595. Fill out the survey and you can watch them for FREE.

Start a Blog

I meet with good people all the time who ask me how they can enhance their professional reputations (whether it's in cause marketing or another field). I tell them all the same thing: start a blog.

I've been blogging since 2004 and it was the best thing I ever did. Yes, it requires time, commitment. But so few people actually do the work that you have a great opportunity to stand out as a bleader (blogger + leader) in your field.

Are you wondering what platform to use? I would give Medium a try. [Oops. Medium is in beta and not open to everyone, although you can request an invite. Try the FREE version of Wordpress.] It was founded by Ev Williams - he also founded Blogger and this other site...oh, what's the name...oh yeah, TWITTER.

I like what they are trying to accomplish over at Medium. It's all about making words shine! Pictures are great, but words rule!

Wondering what you should write about? Don't. Just start writing. You'll find your niche. The important thing is to get started.

Learn More About Mobile

We all know that mobile is exploding, but as a fundraiser and cause marketer are you ready for a mobile-first world? I didn't think so.

I learn a lot about mobile from the people I follow on Twitter. They include: @mGive, @uqrme,

I also subscribe to Mediapost'sMobile Marketing Daily.

Catch Up on Back Episodes of CauseTalk Radio

I know, everyone misses CauseTalk Radio. For her 40th birthday, my co-host Megan Strand decided to ride her bike 400 miles. What she didn't tell me was that she was stopping at a bar every ten milles and the trip would take her a month! Fortunately, she's back now and we're back on the air next Thursday.

You can catch up on the shows here. I think you'll be surprised at the breadth of topics we cover on cause marketing, fundraising, nonprofit marketing and branding.

You have 57 episodes to listen to. Start now and you can finish before Labor Day!

Become a Regular on Twitter

It's not enough to join Twitter. You have to be active on it.

I get a lot of from Twitter. I learn about my field and other things I'm interested in (like History!). I use Twitter Search more than I use Google to find things I'm interested in.

But that's now all. I talk with friends, retweet things to share, favorite tweets I want to save for later reading, get people's opinions on things I'm writing about, and ask for help on just about everything.

On what other social network can you accomplish all that!

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

Where I Get My Cause News (and Everything Else for That Matter)

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Today, on Razoo I posted 3 Steps to Using Twitter to Gather Nonprofit News. The post has a good list of cause marketing resources if you're upping your commitment to following cause marketing news and trends in 2013.

But man does not live by cause alone. I learn a lot from reading the tweets of people in different fields and industries. Here are the people I follow on Twitter that cross-pollinate my writing and ideas.

@GeoffLiving: I think I get more links and new people to follow from Geoff than anyone else. Mobile, social media, tech, writing, rants, cross-dressing - Geoff has it all!

@AdviceToWriters: Even with two books under my belt, I call myself a blogger, not a writer. I have a long way to go to earn that distinction. But the daily tidbits from @AdviceToWriters inspire me to keep trying.

@DanBlank: He's helping me and others build our author platform - one tweet at a time.

@BevNetCraven: John Craven is a beverage guru who's showing me the ins and outs of his industry, and its connection to cause marketing.

@CNet: Tech news for techie wannabes like me.

@JonahLupton: Startup guy and entrepreneur who's teaching me the biz!

@BigGuyD: Don Martelli is teaching me everything I need to know about public relations, digital strategy, tech and life in general.

@SEOSEM: Jeff Selig is my go-to source for anything related to SEO - or anything else I don't understand.

@PeteWright: Podcast and video genius. I'm hoping he can make me sound and look better in 2013. He's going to need all the support he can get.

@JasonFalls: I've learned a ton from Jason on Digital Strategy. No bullshit or pulled punches.

@DStevenWhite: Steve's a professor somewhere in New England. Great tweets on mobile technology.

@JeffWiedner: Full-time tree hugger. Jeff's teaching me how to save the world.

@JohnHaydon: Facebook and social media genius. My twal since I joined Twitter!

@TheRichBooks: He's the guy that got me onto Twitter in the first place! For you, he's a Mainer with great advice on digital marketing. He's kind of funny too.

@UQRme: If I have any questions about QR Codes, or anything else that links the digital world to the physical world, I ask these guys.

@JohnAgular: John always has great stuff on blogging.

This is my list of good people to follow on Twitter. Who's on yours?

4 Steps To Achieving Lasting Cause Marketing Partnerships


This is a guest post from Ashley Halligan, an analyst at Software Advice. You can reach Ashley at

The idea of cause marketing has been around since the '70s -- that is, developing a partnership between nonprofits and for-profits with a sense of lateral interest and synergy, demonstrating ROI for both parties. How does a nonprofit begin a cause marketing endeavor? Professionals from both nonprofit organizations and weigh in to help NPOs establish a plan of action.

The first step is determining what the nonprofit actually hopes to achieve through the partnership. Some nonprofits are in dire need of funding--whether that be via grants or assistance with fundraising. Some nonprofits are seeking exposure, leveraging them into public light--boosting visibility, building credibility, raising awareness for a mission and cause, and, hopefully, building donor, volunteer, and member bases. Others, however, may be seeking labor or hard goods to further their mission. Knowing what your organization really needs will allow you to better establish a list of contacts and prospective business partners. You can then determine what your organization can offer the company. This is a sometimes overlooked step; keep in mind, an offer is only attractive if there is a a return on investment. Many nonprofits are seeking partnerships--what unique ROI can you offer?

When compiling prospective companies, keep existing connections in mind. Once you've determined your proposition value and a list of achievements being sought through a cause marketing partnership, begin your company research. Create a list of prospects whose mission and values seem in alignment with your NPO's missions, who have positive public image, and who you think your organization can also benefit. Also, consider companies who board members may already have a contact within. If not, consider who within the company would be the best person to reach out to.

Once a list of prospective companies is compiled, begin to reach out to the companies in mind. Learn as much about them as possible. Understand their public image and presence, their company philosophy and missions. Find a pain point that your organization can perhaps address for the company. It's important to connect the dots for them. Come prepared with a flexible agenda that can be modified to benefit all parties involved.

Once a partnership begins, regular nourishment is necessary to retain the relationship. Enough cannot be stated for the value in open, continual, honest communication. To ensure a relationship will have longevity, regular nourishment is necessary. An FPB should see a clear value in their partnership with your nonprofit. Additionally, keep the for-profit company active in your organization. Consider recruiting volunteers or company involvement for the nonprofit's events, endeavors, and public outreach. Having an emotional connection to a nonprofit significantly improves interest from both parties. And that mutual interest, paired with demonstrated ROI, are the adhesive components of a cause marketing relationship.

What experiences does your organization have with cause marketing? Do you have insights outside of these suggestions that can help a nonprofit achieve a successful cause marketing campaign? 

7 Cause Marketing Lessons from Machiavelli

Nevermind I wrote this post last year. It will live forever!

Niccolo Machiavelli, the Italian diplomat who wrote the classical treatise The Prince 500 years ago, probably would have been a big fan of cause marketing. For a man so interested in statecraft, Machiavelli would appreciate the bottom-line benefits of cause marketing to causes and companies.

Some have called Machiavelli a manipulator. I see him more as a realist. He was practical and committed to getting things done - in any way possible.

That doesn't mean Machiavelli didn't believe in ethics, morals and scruples. He did, but not just because doing good was the right thing. It was frequently the best thing for any savvy prince to get what he wanted.

While Machiavelli never bought a pinup to help children made orphans by the plague, or "liked" a Facebook page to trigger a donation from the powerful Medici family in Florence that would support local artists (including some guy named Michelangelo), Machiavelli's advice transcends the renaissance and politics. It can arm us for the effort between companies and causes to woo a new prince: consumer attention, favor and their all-mighty dollar.

"God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us."

Machiavelli lived during a time when unbelievers were burned as heretics for denying the omniscience of God. Nevertheless, he asserts that men and women need to play a more active role in accomplishing their goals. This is true for your cause as well. You're waiting for donors, fate, luck, even God to save you when opportunities like cause marketing and social media may help you save yourself.

"Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are."

As we learned from the controversy surrounding a cause marketing promotion between Kentucky Fried Chicken and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, cause promotions are about marketing and perception, not truth and reality. Smart causes leverage their strongest emotional appeal in cause marketing campaigns to engage consumers quickly and powerfully. Other nonprofits worry that this one appeal is limiting and won't accurately reflect its full mission. You'll have plenty of time to explain and expand on your work after you set an emotional hook, which cause marketing provides.

"Men are driven by two principal impulses, either by love or by fear."

The emotional appeal for cause marketing has to tap something that consumers either deeply love (e.g. pets, green spaces, children) or seriously fear. When consumers donate to cancer causes, it's done out of fear. Fear that it will afflict us and our loved ones. Whether it's love or fear, your appeal should elicit a strong response from consumers.

"Hence it comes that all armed prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed prophets have been destroyed. . . . Before all else, be armed."

Are you truly ready to try cause marketing, which demands staff, time, money and a stiff sail? Cause marketing is much easier when you have a partner already lined up. But what if you don't? Do you know enough about the practice to sell a prospective partner on it? Do you know how cause marketing can give businesses a competitive edge that goes beyond product and price? If you recruited a new partner tomorrow, what would be the first thing you'd do? Arm yourself for success. Or be prepared to fail.

"A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it."

There are lots of great resources and people to help new cause marketers. Cause Marketing Forum is one of the best, but there are also people online you can follow and learn from. Larger companies and causes are also good teachers. Check out the cause marketing programs CMF honored earlier this month with Halo Awards. Your program probably won't be as successful as theirs, but it will have a "tinge of it" and you'll be on your way.

"Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great. "

Nothing is accomplished without enthusiasm. If you're excited about and committed to cause marketing you'll overcome any hurdle, meet any challenge. But if you're just going through the motions because your boss told you to, expect half-hearted results from your half-hearted effort. Machiavelli said that nothing is accomplished without danger. But no danger was ever surmounted without a strong will to succeed.

"The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar."

Try to view your cause marketing promotion through the eyes of everyday consumers and donors that are seeing your promotion for the first time in aisles, at checkout or on shopping sites. Examples abound of programs that may have had good intentions but didn't have the intended effect. Consider the Urban Outfitters t-shirt that benefited National Public Radio. Sold online by both NPR and Urban Outfitters, only tees sold in the nonprofit's online store raised money for public radio. But don't you think shoppers that bought the t-shirt on Urban Outfitters' site thought NPR would receive a portion of their purchase? There was nothing on the site saying that NPR would benefit. But what expectations did consumers have? How do you think they felt about Urban Outfitters when they learned the truth?

Machiavelli believed that success meant constantly adapting for the times. When cause marketing was first introduced in the 1980's it represented a new kind of corporate giving that smart causes and companies latched on to. With the rise of the web in the late 1990's, together they explored online initiatives. The progress continued as social media platforms were introduced and developed. Today, innovative nonprofits and businesses are embracing location-based marketing, QR codes and mobile technology for cause marketing.

For Machiavelli, a prince's success depends on his ability to prepare for the future and execute his designs without fear, hesitation or regret. If you add transparency, honesty and authenticity to these cause marketing lessons from Machiavelli you'll avoid becoming the cunning, grasping Machiavellian that The Prince sought to overthrow.