Supporting communities with cause marketing

Cause marketing has been around since 1976 when Marriott partnered with the March of Dimes to raise funds and celebrate the grand opening of a new amusement park. The promotion ran in 67 cities and was wildly successful for both the charity and the company.

Cause marketing goes beyond the standard campaigns about products and services. It helps highlight community investment partnerships and drive value for both partners and return on investment for businesses.

I would like to highlight cause marketing campaigns by Canadian Tire and Always which target social concerns that aim to drive a behavioral change.

For Canadian Tire, they’re encouraging children and youth in communities across Canada to play more and be active. It isn’t connected to raising money for their Jumpstart Charities, but knowing that they support kids through Jumpstart gives the message authenticity. Following on the success of their ‘We All Play for Canada’ advertisement, they recently launched a second commercial in support of this cause called ‘Wanna Play.’

Always has been engaged in a global education campaign for girls in puberty for 30 years. They partner with UNESCO, an agency of the United Nations to educate girls around the world. In a recent study, Always discovered that girls lose confidence during puberty, so they started their Epic Battle #likeagirl campaign.Their goal is to inspire, empower and educate girls to break free from negative gender stereotypes. Supported by six videos, they are reaching out to change social convention to make anything that is done ‘like a girl’ is a compliment, not an insult. Take a look at their latest video that they are airing in 25 markets around the world:

Both of these campaigns have been successful in starting the dialogue on their respective issues. As a mother, these campaigns hit close to home. I restrict screen time for my children and send them to play in the backyard as often as possible. And as for doing things #likeagirl, I make an effort not to categorize any behaviour or activity towards either gender.

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Going from Community Giving to Investing

community investment

Can you name five corporations that have excellent community programs? Do their efforts affect where you take your business or where you want to work?

Corporate Community Investment has evolved a lot over the last decade as companies look to leverage their brand with customers and in the communities in which they operate. This is why it is important that the charities that companies support align with their values and business profile.

When corporations invest in communities strategically they can drive value for both their brand and for the organizations they support. When you think about Tim Horton’s or Canadian Tire, you know that they support programs for kids. They both have signature programs that are run by their own charitable foundations. These foundations are supported by the company of course, but also by the company’s customers and employees.

Customers expect companies to give back to the community and will support these causes if they believe that the company is authentic in its support. This is why so much money is raised on Camp Day at Tim’s and Jumpstart Day at Canadian Tire.

It’s overwhelming each year to see how our guests come together to support the Foundation. On Camp Day, buying a cup of coffee and participating in the many activities helps contribute to a positive change in a child’s life. And that’s a good feeling. Bill Moir, President, Tim Horton Children’s Foundation

The role employees have in supporting community programs has grown significantly as well. Corporations encourage employees to contribute both money and time to charitable causes, either of their own choosing or for the company’s signature program.

Many corporations have an annual employee giving campaign in support of United Way or other charities. If the corporation’s signature program aligns with the culture of the company, this campaign can engage employees and provide something for employees to rally around.

Employee volunteering programs benefit the company with employee engagement and retention, the charity with needed hands and skills for projects, and employees with team events and building leadership skills. Such events further strengthen the company’s place in the community, and in some cases provides public or media exposure to both the organization and charity.

Charities have had to evolve with the increase of Corporate Community Investment. Instead of simply receiving cash or products they now work with the company to develop a meaningful, and potentially ongoing partnership; a partnership that has to meet the needs of both the charity and the company. This leads to more people understanding the charitable mission, while companies are able to draw an emotional connection to their brand.

There are a lot of great examples of Corporate Community Leaders in all industries. You can check them some of them out at Imagine Canada.