Spring is in the air, and we are already seeing the next crop of cause-related efforts sprouting. This week, Betty Crocker (Cone client) launched the second year of its cause-related campaign “Stirring Up Wishes,” and AT&T announced a new tree planting initiative to encourage paperless billing. Creative product and service tie-ins such as these are a must-have in every cause marketer’s toolkit. Cause marketing can drive short-term sales, and when sustained over time, it can also enhance consumer trust and build brand loyalty.



But not all cause-related promotions are alike. There are as many creative cause executions as there are consumer brands, each most successful when tailored to the unique product or service and target audience. To help get you started, Cone has identified 10 of the most common types of cause promotions to consider when developing your next program.

1. The “Proud Supporter” Method

This first promotion type describes when a company gives a flat donation to a cause/nonprofit organization, and the donation is not tied to sales of a product or action by the consumer. Cone refers to this as the “proud supporter” method because this language often accompanies this type of cause promotion on the package.

Example: General Mills* Pink Together campaign

Pro: Longer shelf life because it’s not directly tied to individual sales

Con: Passive consumer engagement – no compelling call-to-action to drive engagement


2. Donation with Purchase

Possibly the most common approach associated with cause-related promotions, this is when a donation is triggered for each specially marked package sold during a pre-determined timeframe. The donation may vary and may be described in terms of a percentage or dollar amount of each product.  A funding cap is generally associated with this type of promotion.

Example: Betty Crocker Stirring Up Wishes* campaign

Pro: Opportunity to track sales and sales lift

Con: Requires careful disclosure to ensure consumers are not misled and promotion details are transparent (e.g., caps, timeframes, etc.)

3. Donation with Label or Coupon Redemption

This method is when a company makes a donation for every code/label provided through purchase and redeemed in-store or via mail. It is not the sale itself which triggers the donation, but the supplemental action.

Example: Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives*

Pro: Ability to track consumer reaction to promotion and resulting sales lift

Con: Some consumers are dissuaded by need to take an “extra step”


4. Donation with Online Activation

Similar to the in-store redemption method, this is when a company makes a donation for every code/label provided through purchase and redeemed or activated online.

Example: Dawn Saves Wildlife

Pro: Convenient for consumers and offers second point of engagement

Con: Easy for consumers to forget to redeem code/label because it is not an immediate action


5. Donation with Consumer Action

A method that doesn’t require a purchase; the fifth type of promotion is when a company makes a donation when the consumer takes a specific action (e.g., sends a viral gift, hosts an event, designs packaging).

Example: Mike’s Hard Lemonade Share Some Pink campaign*

Pro: Compelling consumer call-to-action

Con: Less direct tie to sales


6. Dual Incentive Method

A dual incentive promotion is when a company provides an incentive to drive consumer donations (e.g., a donation match, a product coupon or discount).

Example: Lands End Big Warm Up campaign

Pro: Loyalty opportunity – consumers feel a partnership with the company and rewarded for their efforts

Con: Company can be perceived as asking consumers for money since a donation is required to activate the incentive


7. Consumer Pledge Drives

Some companies encourage consumers to pledge support to a social issue or nonprofit partner. This is often accompanied by a corporate donation or incentive for each pledge.

Example: Starbucks Pledge5 campaign

Pro: Gives consumer a voice

Con: Requires localization to ensure highest level of consumer relevance


8. Buy One, Give One (BOGO) Method

A promotion that is gaining in popularity, BOGO is when a donation by a company is communicated in terms of a comparable social impact (e.g., one pack = one vaccine; one dollar = one tree planted, one pair of shoes bought = one pair of shoes donated).

Example: Pampers’ 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine campaign

Pro: Consumers are very responsive to tangible, immediate results

Con: Difficult to translate outputs (# of vaccines) to outcomes (# of lives affected) and the actual cost of the individual item donated may be small (few cents)


9. Consumer-Directed Donation

This promotion allows consumers to determine where and how a company’s donation is allocated, either from a set list or by “nominating” favorite charities.

Example: Target Bullseye Gives campaign

Pro: Consumer is empowered – higher level of engagement and perceived value

Con: Can be resource-intensive to manage and vet multiple nonprofit beneficiaries


10. Volunteerism Rally

The final promotion encourages consumers to donate time in support of a social cause. They are rewarded for their volunteerism with complimentary goods/services.

Example: Disney’s Give a Day, Get a Disney Day campaign

Pro: Opportunity for localization and personalization

Con: High level of consumer commitment required


*Cone client


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