You know it as well as we do: Cause marketing has been shaking up the industry. From give-back campaigns to awareness initiatives, cause marketing has touched every sector—leaving no one unaware of the fact that it’s here to stay. However… there are a few cause marketing mistakes you need to avoid if you’re going to jump on the bandwagon and create impactful campaigns.

Are you ready to create innovative cause marketing campaigns that not only reach your target audience, but converts? At Refuel Agency, we’ve been crafting strategic cause marketing campaigns for over 30 years, and we’re invested in ensuring that yours is our best one yet. Contact us today to get started.

cause marketing mistakes

What is cause marketing?

Cause marketing is defined as the collaboration between a for-profit and a non-profit to educate people on the causes that need attention, what they’re all about, and the ways that they can help. Cause marketing is a powerful medium for consumer brands to serve as catalysts and critical platforms for broad public engagement and support for a cause or organization.

Today’s consumers have raised the bar, and are looking for brands to fill the gaps where other institutions may be failing. Cause marketing gives brands the opportunity to connect with their target audience through shared values and a dedication to the greater good.

Types of cause marketing campaigns (include, but not limited to): 

  • Charitable sales promotions (where you pledge a percentage of sales, proceeds or a predetermined sum to benefit programs as a result of the sale of your product)
  • Making a donation in lieu of employee or client gifts, awards, etc. 
  • Promoting a challenge or match donation to employees and/or customers
  • Hosting a donation drive
  • Providing change collection devices or “round up” promotions
  • Equipping your employees to directly ask consumers for a donation

Read next: 5 Examples of Brands That Got Cause Marketing Right

Mistake #1: Choosing the wrong cause for your brand. 

As we’ve talked about before, supporting a cause without any alignment is unsustainable, and doing it simply for quick publicity is greenwashing and unethical. So choosing a cause that truly aligns with your company and where you can make a real, long-term impact is critical. Your support could come in many forms, from financial contributions, awareness campaigns, or donation of your products, services, or technology. The key is that you build something that works.

So how can you choose the right cause for your brand? First, refer to your mission statement. It’s there for a reason—to guide your business practices. Second, look locally. Your business can make the biggest impact with an organization in your own community and there will be a sense of natural alignment. Third, ask your people. It’s likely that your employees have causes they already care about, ensuring that your employees are bought into your initiatives. And finally, spend a day volunteering. This way, you’ll be able to get a solid sense of how the organization operates, meet its staff, and understand how you can best be of service.

Read next: How to Find the Right Cause for Your Brand to Support

Mistake #2: Viewing cause marketing primarily as philanthropy. 

While cause marketing certainly does have a philanthropic objective, cause marketing by definition encompasses more than that—namely, gaining exposure for both the cause and your brand through strategic marketing tactics. If your goal is strictly philanthropic, you can make a donation in your brand’s name as a part of your company’s corporate social responsibility program. But confusing the two initiatives is a recipe for an unsuccessful cause marketing campaign. 

So how can you ensure that your cause marketing campaign achieves its objectives? Enlist everything you know about launching a successful omnichannel marketing campaign and apply it to your cause marketing campaign. Your objective is to drive awareness, positive sentiment towards your brand, and donations to the cause you’re supporting.

Read next: Cause Marketing: What Brands Must Research Before Supporting a Cause

Mistake #3: A lack of transparency. 

One of the biggest mistakes brands can make with their cause marketing campaigns is a lack of transparency about what the objective of the campaign is, where donations are going, and how those donations are helping the chosen cause. Today’s consumers have had enough lip-service to causes, green-washing, or good intentions. Transparency is more important than ever. 

So how can your brand ensure transparency during your next campaign? Be very clear in your marketing materials exactly where donations are going. If you’re donating a percentage of your profits to an organization, communicate exactly what that percentage is. Host a donation tracker on your website to inform and inspire the customers contributing to your campaign. 

Read next: The Top 8 Types of Cause Marketing Campaigns

At Refuel Agency, we’ve been executing impactful cause marketing campaigns with nonprofits and brands for over 30 years, educating and involving the niche audiences we deliver. Cause marketing is here to stay. Looking to Refuel your cause marketing campaigns? Take a look at our cause marketing portfolio, and contact us today to receive your custom media plan for targeted impact.