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Giving Tuesday: An Opportunity to Market for a Cause

I'll admit that I've been part of the people lining up in the wee hours of the morning waiting for the doors to open on Black Friday. I even (temporarily) lost my young son once even though I specifically instructed him to run toward the tv's. Luckily, my wife chose to chase him as he ran to the video games, and it ended up a win-win when I got myself a huge flat screen at a great price. But I digress.

As you may or may not know, in 2012, to compete with the commercialism of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, the NY 92nd Street Y teamed up with the United Nations Foundation to create #Giving Tuesday.

During the first year more than $10 million in online donations were processed and by 2015 this number increased to approximately $116 million. These numbers are pretty impressive given that according to a 2015 survey, only 18% of consumers were familiar with Giving Tuesday. While this new holiday has been specifically geared toward the charity's online solicitation efforts, it appears to be an ideal vehicle for corporate giving through cause marketing campaigns. The statistics bear this out:

According to the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study (

  • Companies that address social and environmental issues see an 88% increase in loyalty;
  • 63% of consumers have bought a product associated with a cause in the past year;
  • 90% of consumers would switch brands to one associated with a social or environmental cause; and
  • 71% of consumers would pay more for a socially or environmentally responsible product.

And employees take notice:

  • According to the same 2015 Cone study, 79% of employees decide where to work based on a company's support of a cause and 62% of employees would work for a socially responsible company even if their salary would be less than at other companies;
  • The 2014 Millennial Impact Report found that "A company's involvement with causes ranked as the 3rd most important factor when applying for a job."
  • A 2011 Fidelity Investments' Employee Survey found that 88% of volunteering program participants at work said their experiences make them feel included to recommend their company as a great place to work.

Companies can consider teaming up for Cyber Tuesday with a cause significant to its brand in a number of ways:

  • Commercial co-ventures: Besides traditional money donations generated from product sales, a company can make in-kind donations to benefit the charity: if you sell diapers, perhaps donate diapers to a woman's shelter for every package of diapers sold; if you sell flowers, consider donating holiday wreaths for veterans' graves. You get the point. OR, consistent with the non-commercial aspect of Giving Tuesday, a company can make donations that are not triggered by sales, by making donations based on likes or tweets or snaps or pins, etc.
  • Drives: Hold a food/clothes/books, etc. drive to donate items to charity. This can be as simple as encouraging shoppers or employees to donate goods or it can be an alternative to destroying or heavily discounting excess inventory.
  • Skills-based Volunteering: Tap into a relevant pro bono endeavor or have employees help people draft resumes or dress for success through the many non-profits organizations championing these causes.
  • Matching Employee Gifts: Offer incentives to employees to make donations to their favorite charity by making matching gifts.

Obviously, these are just a few of the many examples of cause related programs that help charities, boost sales, drive consumers, and engage and retain employees.

This would not be a "legal" blog if I didn't mention that you should run your cause marketing ideas by legal counsel. Your donations have tax consequences and your programs could be regulated; most notably, commercial co-ventures are, as you know if you've ever read some of my previous posts (which I strongly encourage), regulated in many states, including possible registration and bonding, along with contractual and ad disclosure requirements. But the "legal" hurdles are quite manageable and typically well-worth the boost in good will and good business.

Topics: Cause Marketing