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10 Best Cause Marketing Promotions of 2015


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Selfish Giving's annual 10 Best Cause Marketing Promotions of 2015. For more information and useful links, visit:

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10 Best Cause Marketing Promotions of 2015

  1. 1. Hi and Happy New Year! I’m back with my annual list of 10 Best Cause Promo.ons of 2015. As always, it was a great year for cause marke@ng. There was a no@ceable spike in company-led cause marke@ng promo@ons last year. Like a game of “Where’s Waldo?” I had to ask: “Where are all the great nonprofit cause marke@ng programs?” Of course, they are always there, but the advantage went to companies – at least in 2015. Perhaps nonprofits will mount a comeback in 2016. Last year was the first @me I did a full blog post and Slideshare for my 10 Best. The combo was a big hit with nearly 22,000 views on Slideshare alone. My goal each year with my picks is the same: to inspire you to create interes@ng, effec@ve cause marke@ng promo@ons that raise gobs of money for your cause. This list is just a start. You can find thousands more examples on my Pinterest boards. Wishing you all the best in 2016. Joe Waters Founder & Blogger,
  2. 2. Promo%on: Pay-It-Forward Pizza Partners: Rosa's Fresh Pizza, Philadelphia's Center City Why I Picked It: My roots are in local cause marke@ng, and there is no be`er example of it than what Mason Wartman has done at Rosa's Fresh Pizza, a standalone pizzeria in Philly. When Megan Strand and I interviewed Mason in early 2015, he had become a media darling for his efforts to feed the homeless in his Philly neighborhood. He even appeared on the Ellen Show! Like all great ideas, Mason's is simple but powerful. When customers buy a slice of pizza they can buy another for someone in need. Rosa's walls are lined with s@cky notes that the needy can redeem for a free slice. Rosa's has given away thousands of slices in a neighborhood that needs all the extra dough it can get. Want to learn more about Rosa’s Fresh Pizza? See my full post at Selfish Giving.
  3. 3. Promo%on: Second Chance Employment Partners: Dave’s Killer Bread, Dave’s Killer Bread Founda@on Why I Picked It: We could all learn a lot from Oregon-based Dave’s Killer Bread. Dave’s baked passion in right from the start. The bread company’s founder, Dave Dahl, spent 15 years in prison before founding the brand, which has grown to over $50 million in sales and employs 300 people. Dave never forgot where he came from and the chance he got to go straight. That’s why 30% of Dave’s employees have criminal backgrounds. Eager for other companies to adopt their smart and compassionate prac@ces, Dave’s hosts an annual Second Chance Summit for local companies. Na@onally, Dave’s is crea@ng a Second Chance Playbook to share with businesses. Dave’s knows that the right ingredients ma`er. That’s why they started with passion Want to learn more about Dave’s Killer Bread? See my full post at Selfish Giving.
  4. 4. Promo%on: Sports Ma`er Partners: DICK's Spor@ng Goods, DICK’s Spor@ng Goods Founda@on Why I Picked It: In March 2014, DICK’s Spor@ng Goods Founda@on launched Sports MaNer, a proprietary crowd-funding plaiorm that lets youth sports teams raise money from supporters and earn a matching grant through its founda@on. 184 teams joined the crowdfunding program represen@ng 35 states and 35 unique sports. Aler a tutorial from GOODcorps on how to use the site, the teams raised more than $2 million in dona@ons during the five-week fundraising campaign. With DICK’s Spor@ng Goods Founda@on matching grants, $4.6 million reached youth sports teams facing severe financial challenges. As a 2015 Halo Award winner for best social media campaign, Sports MaNers has been a home run for DICK's, its founda@on and local sports teams. Want to learn more about Sports MaNer? See my full post at Selfish Giving. Photo Credit: USAG- Humphreys via Flickr
  5. 5. Promo%on: Race Together Partners: Starbucks Why I Picked It: This is the biggest surprise on the top ten list! We could debate the merits of Starbucks' Race Together - the coffee giant's effort to start a conversa@on about our troubled race rela@ons all day - but I'm pre`y no one would call the campaign a success S@ll, as cause marketer Phil Haid has "Rather than scowl at Starbucks’ bold a`empt to further the race dialogue, we should admire his tenacity and modern corporate leadership." I agree with Phil. Starbucks has always been a cause leader and Race Together is another example of its corporate leadership. It's easy to fault the execu@on of the program at the store level and laugh about baristas talking to customers about race rela@ons. But the underlying values of the campaign nonetheless advanced a basic, powerful truth: red, black, white, yellow or brown we are be`er Americans when we work together. Want to learn more about Race Together? See my full post at Selfish Giving.
  6. 6. Promo%on: The Castle Shares Program Partners: White Castle, Au@sm Speaks Why I Picked It: In addi@on to its square burgers, White Castle is known for its cause marke@ng. I first wrote about White Castle in 2010 when the company launched a specialty candle to benefit Au@sm Speaks. But this just wasn’t any candle. It was an onion - and hamburger-scented candle that “Cravers”- fans of White Castle - loved almost as much as the burgers. The big winner was Au@sm Speaks, which has received $100,000 from sales of the candles. In addi@on, White Castle has hosted an annual register fundraiser that asks consumers to donate $1, $3, or $5 to Au@sm Speaks. In 2015, the fundraiser raised $909,000, a 48% increase over the previous year. In total, White Castle has raised $3 million for Au@sm Speaks since 2010. Want to learn more about White Castle? See my full post at Selfish Giving.
  7. 7. Promo%on: Find Your Park Partners: Columbia Sportswear, Na@onal Park Founda@on Why I PIcked It: When a vaca@oning reporter came across a group of La@no bloggers camping in a na@onal park he was so surprised he wrote about it for the New York Times. Those bloggers weren't there by chance. They were sent there by Columbia Sportswear. In a 2013 partnership with REI and the Na@onal Park Founda@on a group of La@no bloggers were immersed in a week-long trip to na@onal parks. The bloggers' reports on their experience generated over 60 million impressions. In 2015, the partnership included Subaru, Aramark and Southwest Airlines. The Find Your Park ou@ng is now the grand prize for an annual contest for diverse millennial influencers that includes bloggers, YouTube celebri@es, business owners and TV personali@es. Want to learn more about Find Your Park? See my full post at Selfish Giving.
  8. 8. Promo%on: Lend a Hand Partners: Pe@r Garden Centers, Sco`s Miracle-Gro, Cleveland Clinic Why I PIcked It: A great example of a local cause marke@ng program is Cleveland Clinic's with Pe@r Garden Centers, which has nine stores in northeast Ohio. Prior to 2013, the register program at Pe@r stores raised $9,000. In 2013, the fundraiser quadrupled its results and raised $40,000! In 2014, Pe@r convinced lawn and garden giant Sco`s Miracle-Gro to match customer dona@ons. The program grew like crazy and raised $100,000. In 2015, thanks to Pe@r's and Sco`s, the program raised $165,000. The point is clear. Cause marke@ng isn't just for big nonprofits and businesses. Passion, educa@on and persistence can produce big returns for nonprofits and companies of all sizes. Want to learn more about Pe.R’s? See my full post at Selfish Giving.
  9. 9. Promo%on: There's Nothing Bolder Than Being Yourself Partners: Doritos, It Gets Be`er Project Why I Picked It: I didn't pick this cause marke@ng promo@on because of the money it raised. For every $10 donated donors received a bag of rainbow chips. Doritos raised around $100,000 for the It Gets Be`er Project, an organiza@on that aims to inspire hope in young lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender youth facing harassment. For a large, na@onal brand like Doritos, which is owned by Frito-Lay, this isn't a huge pile of chips. I picked the campaign because it's a great example of Causejacking, when a brand rides the wave of a cause's popularity. Just two months earlier, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the United States. As proponents and opponents exchanged jabs and blows, Doritos shared a rainbow that got everyone's a`en@on. Want to learn more about rainbow chips? See my full post at Selfish Giving.
  10. 10. Promo%on: The Orvis Cover Dog Photo Contest Partners: Orvis, Morris Animal Founda@on Why I Picked It: Spor@ng and dog products retailer Orvis and the Morris Animal Founda@on created The Orvis Cover Dog Photo Contest to deepen customer engagement and awareness. Par@cipants submi`ed a picture of their dog to the contest and then invited friends and family (through social media) to give their photo some doggie love. Each vote cost $1 with a $5 minimum vote/dona@on. Here's the impressive part. More than 100,000 photos were submi`ed. Orvis added tens of thousands of customers to its mailing list. Morris raked in 26,540 new donors - 10 percent of whom have already made a second gil. To date, $1,085,898 has been raised and 11 major colleges and universi@es are conduc@ng research funded by monies gained through this program. By partnering with Orvis, Morris Animal Founda@on has created six programs, including one to train scien@sts and two to improve cancer diagnoses. Want to learn more about Orvis? See my full post at Selfish Giving. Photo Credit: Michael Gil via Flickr
  11. 11. Promo%on: Second Annual Make-A-Wish Dona@on Program Partners: GameStop, Make-A-Wish Why I Picked It: In 2015, GameStop raised money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and donated products to Ronald McDonald House Chari@es. But it was GameStop's cause marke@ng promo@on with Make-A-Wish that got them onto my 2015 "Best" list. In 2014, the retailer raised $300,000 for Wish with simple checkout program. A @dy sum, for sure. But in 2015 they quadrupled this number and raised $1.2 million for the charity. They did it by pulling out all the stops. They leveraged social media, they appointed employee ambassadors to oversee the execu@on of the fundraiser and they incen@vized customers. In short, they developed a strategy to get every customer to give. And it paid off in a BIG way for Make-A-Wish. Want to learn more about GameStop? See my full post at Selfish Giving.