Bart Given, Managing Partner & Chief Innovator
David Hessekiel, Founder and President, Companies & Causes
On October 28th, Bart Given will be hosting a session on Integrating Sports and Cause Marketing at Companies & Causes. At the session, an all-star panel will speak to how brands and causes are working together to achieve business goals, while making a difference in Canadian communities.
We have asked David Hessekiel, Founder and President of Companies & Causes, to join Bart Given in a pre-conference Q&A to get warmed up for the event.
Interesting in attending? You can register here and mention TORQUE at checkout to get a discount on admission.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS ONE OF THE BEST EXAMPLES OF A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN A CAUSE AND A BRAND? WHAT ARE SOME COMMON TRAITS TO LOOK FOR IN A CAUSE PARTNERSHIP?
Bart: Authenticity. That is the key to successful partnerships between brands and causes. Consumers are incredibly savvy and fully-prepared to admonish brands and causes who are not authentically connected and/or share values.
It’s important to test your authenticity throughout the partnership, and its various activations. It is no longer enough to state your love/support for a cause and ask for Facebook likes to make a donation. Challenge yourself as a partner to take the “authenticity test” at every stage.
In regard to best examples…I sit in an incredibly biased chair on that one! Some of my favourites involve clients, so I’m going to take the easy path while providing a teaser to my session at Causes and Companies Canada. I will be fortunate enough to be joined by long-time friend, Brian Collins from Purolator, on October 28th and he’s going to share insights into the award winning “Tackle Hunger” program.
Tackle Hunger is authentic to Purolator’s core business, and is authenticated by their recognition of the importance of employee engagement. Check out this video.
David: Great cause partnerships take advantage of the capabilities of the business and the non-profit to achieve mutually significant goals.
At the moment, my favorite example is a partnership between DonorsChoose.org, a group that enables US teachers to post online requests for funding for supplies they need for their classrooms, and Horace Mann, an insurance company that specializes in selling to educators. Horace Mann’s agents are always challenged to get appointments with new prospects and DonorsChoose.org does not have a field force to train teachers on posting requests. The “Turning Agents Into Educators” program trained the company’s agents to teach teachers how to take advantage of the DonorsChoose.org system. As one agent put it, “This was the best door opener program we’ve run in years.” A case study on the CMF website describes the thousands of teachers that were reached and millions raised.
WE’VE SEEN RAPID GROWTH IN CAUSE RELATED MARKETING OVER THE YEARS, TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THIS SHIFT?
Bart: It’s good for business. Meaningful brands are increasingly important to consumers and are built through their actions and the company they keep.
David: There is a growing belief among consumers that governments are not up to solving all of the world’s problems and in turn there is a growing hunger for businesses to step up and play an active role. Cause marketing, impact investing, social entrepreneurship, creating shared value are all reactions to this.
HOW WILL THE PREVALENCE OF CAUSE MARKETING AND SOCIAL BUSINESS MODELS LIKE ‘TOMS ONE-FOR-ONE’ MODEL IMPACT MORE TRADITIONAL APPROACHES TO CSR?
Bart: Not sure if it’s a result of our shorter attention spans, or we have just realized this as marketers – but consumer like tangible outcomes. It’s easier to identify with a pair of shoes, season of sport, or hectare of land preserved, than a fundraising target. It allows the consumer to know their purchase decision has made a direct impact.
David: Programs that make social impact easy to understand have a real advantage in connecting with consumers. Not every problem or program lends itself to a “buy one, give one” format, but companies that want to maximize their business and social impact need to find ways to simplify their messaging, emphasize impact and provide consumers with easy ways to feel that they are contributing to making a difference.
CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS WITH NOT FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS HAVE SOMETIMES BEEN CRITICIZED FOR CHANGING THE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE TO MAKE THE NOT FOR PROFITS MORE MARKETABLE. COULD YOU DISCUSS FEW OF THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES THAT ARISE FROM SUCH PARTNERSHIPS?
Bart: Consumers, myself included, need to understand that infrastructure, education/training and awareness are very important for many causes. If a brand can provide these assets, or directly fund these areas – they are still having demonstrable impact on the success of the cause.
These types of partnerships should be welcomed – teaching to fish or lending a hand is still tremendously important. BUT, never forget the need for authenticity. A brand should never push a cause to alter its mandate to the detriment of organizational objectives.
David: No non-profit organization has to engage in building consumer facing cooperative campaigns with business partners. Those that feel corporate alliances can help them attract substantial resources that will aid in accomplishing their missions should then do the serious work of establishing policies on what they will and what they won’t do and how they will organize and staff themselves to create real value for themselves and their corporate partners.
Years ago my friend Kurt Aschermann wrote a great article for non-profits contemplating serious engagement in partnering with companies called The 10 Commandments of Cause-Related Marketing — it remains a great read.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE FROM CAUSES AND BRANDS IN THE FUTURE?
Bart: There will be increased instances of partnerships, unfortunately many will fail as brands and causes try to play catch-up with the market-leaders in the space.
This will lead to over-analysis, as many in the industry will focus on the holes in the strategic approach instead of realizing their failings tactically.
Thankfully the truly meaningful brands and their partners will experience incredible growth and these relationships will become as synonymous with the brand story as the “recipe”, product attributes or flashy campaigns.
David: I believe we will see