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Cause-Related Marketing Rules to Live By

Joe Waters, of Selfish Giving, is my go-to person when it comes to cause marketing. He has had a ton of experience, and he can translate that experience into best practices that we can all follow.

Recently Waters came up with the 10 Commandments of Cause Marketing. In the wake of the Komen for the Cure partnership with Kentucky Fried Chicken, some of us have been thinking, “Don’t we need some guidelines or rules for these things?” Leave it to Waters to come up with a great list of guidelines. Here are some of them:

  • You shall know what cause marketing is. There is a lot of confusion out there about this and Waters points us to a definition.
  • You shall choose your cause marketing partners carefully. Waters suggests that a cause marketer take a Hippocratic Oath: Do no Harm, like the one that medical professionals use. Basically, don’t hurt your cause, your constiutents or your partner.
  • You shall create cause marketing programs that are win-win. It’s all about helping each other. The company wants the halo effect of partnering with a cause; the nonprofit wants visibility and to raise money.
  • You shall not expect results overnight. It takes time and a lot of effort to build a successful cause marketing program. Think long term. The first program you run will set the stage for future ones.

Be sure to read the entire list of commandments, then print them out and post them for your whole staff to see. These are invaluable, as is most of Waters’ cause marketing advice.


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