Selecting the Right Cause Marketing Partners

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Cause marketing partners are non-profit organizations that work with brands to promote brand values and connect with like-minded customers. Choosing the right non-profit partner is key to success—especially for cause marketing at events. Choose cause marketing partners that align with your target audience.


Here are four tips to keep top-of-mind.


Identify your goals.


To avoid negative results—or even worse, damage to your brand, start by asking why run a cause campaign.


1. Do you need to change a perception about your brand?


2. Who is the audience you’d like to align?


3. Are you looking to build relationships in a specific market?


Several years ago, I approached our CEO with an idea to start an annual event where women in the event industry come together, exchange ideas, talk through challenges, share successes, and, of course, have fun. The result? Women in Events (WIE) is born! WIE partners with Event Marketer Magazine and its largest annual industry conference, the Experiential Marketing Summit, each year to execute a cause marketing program.


At this year’s Summit, WIE partners with Dress for Success Denver for a cause marketing program. Both organizations align to the same goals: helping women obtain skills, knowledge and abilities needed for personal and professional achievement.


Evaluate your staff.


Next, determine if your team can execute a high-profile cause marketing partners campaign. Beyond motivation, examine other factors:


1. Does your team have enough bandwidth?


2. Do team member skill sets fit the cause program?


3. Can existing partnerships or relationships be leveraged?


At this year’s WIE event, attendees create hundreds of “career bags”—totes stuffed with daily essentials and motivational elements for women entering the Denver job market. We also conduct a jewelry and bag drive to collect new and/or gently used work accessories for Dress for Success. Program success hinges on expert coordination of both activities. Time and attention from internal staff is imperative. At our WIE program, lots of activities must align—pre-event: create awareness about the activities; during the event: facilitate bag stuffing and clothing collection; and post-event: assure delivery of donated items.


Perform a self-assessment.


Assessing how the non-profit cause benefits by aligning with your brand is another important consideration. Do you offer marketing or PR help? Offer creative ideas? Recruit mentors?


A Sparks roster of professionals of various ages, diverse backgrounds and career stages entry level to senior vice president, coupled with over 1,000 marketing professionals from WIE assures a great EMS WIE/Dress for Success Denver program. All event initiatives, awareness, logistics and on-site execution, drive the Dress for Success agenda forward. The program is a roadmap for future initiatives.


Research partners.


The best cause marketing partners are authentic. Savvy consumers see through partnerships that aren’t aligned to the same goals and beliefs. Sites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar are helpful to evaluate and vet potential partners.


Women in Events and Dress for Success are a natural fit. Passions align to the same goals: empower the professional and personal lives of women.


Through the essentials work bag build and accessories drive, we will help Dress for Success Denver provide hundreds of women entering the Denver job market with the confidence to succeed in their next interview or job.




Check out brand activations and sponsorships designed and produced by Sparks.



Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.