Industry Updates

Cause Related Marketing

10 Mar 2011

Cause Related Marketing (CRM) has been practised for many years in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has established itself as an additional marketing tool in South Africa over the past decade and opened a new and valued source of funding for non-profit organisations.

In Cause Related Marketing, companies and non-government organisations (NGOs) develop win-win partnerships in which companies benefit by positioning their products or services with the cause served by NGOs. The most immediate benefit to charitable organisations is financial. Companies pay royalties (at pre-arranged tariffs) to NGOs per item sold, number of customers reached or new markets penetrated.

One of the most straightforward and successful such relationships is the endorsement of products by including NGOs' logos on packaging materials. The Heart Foundation was one of the forerunners of this form of donor marketing (fundraising) in South Africa. Its logo can be seen on everything from margarine to beer. A variation of this theme is the successful partnership between Adcock Ingram's Elizabeth Anne's baby products and The Avril Elizabeth Home.

A sticker bearing the Home's logo (a teddy bear conjuring up cute and cuddly feelings which work well with baby products) is placed on containers for three months each year. The Home receives xxx per item sold during that period.

Advantages to the companies are numerous but one of the most measurable is extra media coverage at no increase in ad-spend. Innovative NGO donor marketers arrange a donation in kind from media partners across the print and electronic spectrum. Adverts appear during a CRM campaign promoting the product or service, the charity and the feel-good factor of the public's participation by purchasing the product and thereby helping the non-profit organisation. A 1996 Cone Communications / Roper Starch Worldwide survey indicated that three out of four consumers said that, price and quality being on a par, they would switch brands to buy a product which supported a cause they cared about.

The most successful CRM initiative in South Africa is Nedbank's Green, Sport and Art Affinity programmes. Described as relating to the 'body, soul and mind of man' and with the newest addition of an affinity link with the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, Nedbank offers clients and potential clients an opportunity to be part of their multi-million rand annual support of numerous environmental, sports development, arts and cultural and childrens' initiatives. Other than a voluntary nominal donation to the client's choice of cause each time a new cheque book is ordered, Nedbank makes a payment to the Arts & Culture Trust of the President, the Sports Trust, the Green Trust or the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund on behalf of its clients for each transaction conducted. A win-win-win partnership.

Successful cause related marketing partnerships in South Africa to date have largely originated from charities. Most marketing professionals canvassed for this article indicated that they would be 'very open to being approached by NGOs with innovative ideas'. Little is happening in this field in South Africa which is proactively initiated by brand managers, marketing professionals or ad agencies.

There are clearly thousands of mutually beneficial potential partnerships out there. Ironically though, most NGOs cannot afford the creative/marketing in-house skills to identify and devise powerful CRM campaigns. Marketing professionals should be encouraged to consider the value of inexpensive high-profile brand exposure that charity relationships can offer when planning ad budgets and placements.

The key to a successful CRM partnership is to identify the product or service which has a 'fit' or affinity with the ethos of a specific non-profit organisation and this relationship must appeal to the company's target market. Such a charity/company partnership enables the company to publicly demonstrate its support for a cause, facilitates customer support with the added feel-good effect of the cause and benefits the charity in the way it needs most - financially.

Jill Ritchie
Donor Marketing Consultant

Jill Ritchie is CEO of Papilon Press & Consultancy offering consultancy services to both the charity sector as well as companies on their social investment and sponsorship programmes. Her company is the largest publisher of books for NGOs in Southern Africa. (Tel: +27 11 790 0412 ; e-mail: