It’s difficult to go a day without seeing or hearing an advertisement for a socially driven campaign. TOMS made the social good movement mainstream, and businesses of all sizes are jumping on the bandwagon.

Why do companies want to take part in cause marketing? Well, because it works. Consumers feel good about their purchases when a social cause is attached to it. Many large corporations donate annually to their favorite causes, but now they can tie a marketing campaign around their giving. Giving is cool.

However, companies and nonprofits need to be careful about how they implement cause marketing. There must be a relevant and obvious connection between the two – or both brands risk becoming diluted.

Consumers are getting smarter. A company needs to go deeper than a simple cause marketing campaign. Doing good needs to be a part of their identity, culture and overall business. It needs to be engrained within their brand. Consumers have been flooded with social good and cause marketing campaigns recently and they aren’t always buying the “good” message that you’re selling. They want to support a company that lives out a social good mission. A simple cause marketing campaign is not enough anymore.

It’s all good…or is it?
The simplest way to take advantage of the social-minded consumer is via “cause marketing.” That is where a for-profit business partners with a nonprofit and builds a campaign around “doing good.” This might sound familiar: a consumer buys something or takes a specific action and the company donates to the nonprofit. These are typically short-lived and don’t make much of a long-term impact for the nonprofit. If you have ever watched an NFL game in October (or walked into any retail store), you’ve been hit with cause marketing. Pink is in the air … and in the food, on the clothing, on the packaging … pink is everywhere. Then you’re hit again in November, with “Movember” (growing a mustache for a cause). It’s the perfect excuse for men to grow a creepy looking mustache.

Social Good, Conscious Capitalism and Cause Marketing are similar ideas, but also very different. We just talked about cause marketing – let’s quickly jump into the others.

Social Good is typically a for-profit company with a social mission built into their DNA. TOMS is the perfect example with their One for One Giving Model. Others include Warby Parker, Harry’s, Sevenly, Project 7, Miir and so many more. Giving is a part of their business model. It’s a big part of their marketing. You buy and they give.

Conscious Capitalism is taking that a step further. Everything they do and implement is viewed in how it benefits human beings and the environment. This could be anything from the type of food they sell, to how they manufacture their products. Whole Foods and Patagonia are great examples of this. Companies that practice this have great opportunities to benefit off cause marketing, because it connects easily with the consumer. They expect it. It’s more authentic.

According to the 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study, 89% of U.S. consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality. In 2015, cause marketing is predicted to reach $1.92 billion!

Those are huge numbers and extremely attractive to marketers and businesses. That is where the issue lies. Doing good is not about making a quick buck – it’s about doing good. Companies need to be authentic or consumers will see right through the cause marketing campaign and it could affect your brand negatively.

If you’re looking for a nonprofit to partner with – ask yourself these questions:

We love working with nonprofits to help them do more good. We have had the opportunity to help and United Way share their story. If you need help telling your social good or nonprofit story – let’s chat!