The Evolution of Cause Marketing

Consumer insights on cause marketing

I had an interesting conversation recently with Chelsea Baade and Will Grupenhoff of Cause and Effect Evolutions (

As part of their presentation for their Green Schoolhouse Series, they provided some interesting information on the evolution of cause marketing.

Twenty years ago companies were practicing:

  • Checkbook philanthropy — get a request, write a check
  • Community support — donation was the end of the support
  • Competitors sharing projects — multiple sponsors, one cause
  • Minimal employee involvement — didn’t want to detract from work
  • No expected return — “feel good” was sufficient
  • Low profile — no need to publicize

Today companies are practicing:

  • Signature causes — actively seeking and aligning with a cause
  • Community development — fully involved in the community or cause
  • Category exclusivity — own a cause within their industry
  • Formal volunteer programs — employee retention is critical and employees want to feel like they’re giving back to the community or industry as well
  • Must provide ROO/ROI — now an investment versus a donation
  • High profile — consumers are demanding transparency, its a great P.R. opportunity for the company

I had one client that spent $100,000 just producing an annual report of their philanthropic efforts (big pharma with lots of money).

Has has you firm’s cause marketing efforts changed over the past 20 years?

Does this list provide some ideas on how you can better leverage your efforts?


About Insights From Analytics

Integrated marketing professional who generates insights from analytics to increase revenue. Daily blog now resides at
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