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Benefits of Cause Marketing for Nigerian Non- Profit Organizations (NPOs)

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You might have seen the big transparent boxes just before the exit doors in Shoprite locations at Oniru, Victoria Island and Surulere, and the boxes are usually loaded with Naira notes albeit in the lower denominations. The directions on the boxes state that you should donate to charity causes and many shoppers donate their loose change judging from the many Naira notes and coins often seen inside. I have made such small donations myself and did so happily knowing that I had donated to good charity causes. So why is a supermarket like Shoprite collecting donations for charity causes? The donation box in Shoprite is a form of cause marketing and this article will explain the concept of cause marketing; its benefits to Nigerian non -profit organizations (NPOs) and for profit businesses.

Typically Nigerian NPOs tend to solicit for donations using their own direct marketing platforms or channels. This is not easy task because they would need to generate societal awareness and have the channels to collect donations from diverse groups of potential donors. According to Wikipedia (2011), Cause marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a "for profit" business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit i.e. a relationship between a company and a nonprofit with a cause that the company wants to talk about in the marketplace in order to accomplish certain business objectives. Cause marketing differs from corporate giving (philanthropy) as the latter generally involves a specific donation, while cause marketing is a marketing relationship not necessarily based on a donation.

The possible benefits of cause marketing for nonprofit organizations include an increased ability to promote the nonprofit organization's cause via the greater financial resources of a business, and an increased ability to reach possible supporters through a company's customer base or sales channels. The possible benefits of cause marketing for business include positive public relations, improved customer relations, and additional marketing opportunities.

The donations in the Shoprite boxes may be relatively small but it could be substantially higher if the full potentials of cause marketing are attained. Perhaps the best known Non-profit charity organization that has used Cause marketing to shape societal awareness is Susan G. Komen for the Cure also known as Komen which focuses on breast cancer. In the U.S.A and some other countries October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when the entire U.S.A goes pink. There are pink-ribbon car tires, pink-ribbon shoes, pink clothes, pink eyelash curlers, pink kitchen blenders and many more. The color pink identifies the wearer or promoter with the breast cancer cause and expresses moral support for women with breast cancer. In American marketing language, “to pink” means to link a brand or a product or even a commercial or sports event to one of the most successful cause marketing campaigns in history, and for many pink products sold, Komen gets a donation. In 2010 Komen raised over USD 400 million. Yes, it is not a typographical error and you read correctly, it was over four hundred million dollars for 2010 alone.

It is clear that there is great potential in cause marketing, so the next questions should be on how to select the right form of cause marketing and attract the right cause marketing alliance partners. There are many forms of cause marketing including the Shoprite version where customers donate their extra change by dropping it in a box. It can be based on sales so that a portion of the proceeds of a specific item sold is donated to a nonprofit, or it can be promotional inventory (e.g., ads, tray liners, coffee cup sleeves, etc.) that a sponsor devotes to an organization to promote the cause’s mission or a specific campaign. Other forms of cause marketing include promotion of a common message, endorsements, and certifications; local partnerships and Employee service programs. As long as the promotion is relevant to the consumer and easy to participate in, a successful cause marketing campaign is possible.

However for profit organizations do not just partner with any NPO for cause marketing and are usually concerned with the following issues:

  • The integrity, transparency and reputation of the NPO - note that according to the Harris Interactive 2010 EquiTrend annual brand equity poll, Komen is one of the most trusted nonprofit organizations in America.
  • How does the public perceive the NPOs cause i.e. is the NPO’s mission and objectives relevant to the target area?
  • How does the NPO show and evaluate the social, environmental and economic impact of its activities?
  • Does the NPO’s mission align with the products or services of the for profit business?
  • Can the for profit company gain enhanced marketing, image, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and publicity benefits from the cause marketing alliance?

These issues above should be embedded in the NPO’s Social Sector plan which fuses the important elements of a business plan to the requirements of social accounting and audit. Thus a for profit company could request to read and understand the NPO’s social sector plan before committing to a cause marketing alliance. However, possible benefits to the for profit business is best analyzed by the NPO before initiating a cause marketing alliance. The identification of cause marketing partners could also be an integral part of the Social Sector plan.


By Vivian Ani

Highnet Resources Ltd

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