Cause Marketing

In recent years marketing linked to the cause, or marketing causes, has exploded despite being a relatively young concept, going from an industry of 120$ million in 1990 to over 2$ billion in 2017. In essence, cause-related marketing is an effort between a profit-making company and a nonprofit to raise funds for a particular cause.

Both non-profit and profit-making companies can benefit from this agreement. The company expects to sell more products, while at the same time gaining awareness of its values and the willingness to support good causes. The non-profit organisation benefits both financially and from a higher public profile as a result of its partner’s marketing efforts.

The cause marketing was born in the early ’80s, in the U.S.A. thanks to the collaboration of American Express with a non-profit group that was raising funds to restore the Statue of Liberty. American Express provided a portion of each purchase via its credit card to the cause, in addition to an additional donation for each new application that led to a new credit card customer. The company also launched what was at the time a huge advertising campaign with great results, in fact, the restoration fund raised more than $1.7 million and the use of American Express paper increased by 27%, coining the term “marketing causes”. The new card applications increased by 45% compared to the previous year. All this was achieved with a three-month campaign.


A cause-related marketing program is not an anonymous or low-profile donation to a nonprofit organization, but allows the public to know that this company is socially responsible and interested in the same causes as its customers. Marketing campaigns related to the cause may appear in a variety of forms. Jocelyne Daw, in her book “Cause Marketing for Nonprofits” lists some of the most popular:

  • Product sales: just think of the (red) campaign, which brought together many companies to sell specially signed products (a red T-shirt Gap or a red iPod, for example), with a portion of the selling price going to the Global Fund for HIV and AIDS Prevention.
  • Purchase more. Also called “point of purchase”, this popular campaign takes place at the payment lines of grocery stores or other retail stores. Customers add a donation starting at $1 to their bill and the store processes the money and distributes it to a non-profit partner organization. The promotion is low-key, but this makes these programs easy to configure. The “Checkout for charity” campaigns have raised over $3.88 billion over the past thirty years.
  • License of the logo: the brand and the resources of the non-profit. Licenses range from products that are extensions of the non-profit mission to use its logo on promotional items such as T-shirts, cups, and credit cards for the non-profit to provide a certification or recommendation of particular products. An example of the latter is the American Heart Association which approves products that meet its standards for heart health.
  • Social or Public Service Marketing Programs: Social marketing involves the use of marketing principles and techniques to encourage behavior change in a particular audience. An example is the American Cancer Society’s partnership with several companies over the years for the Great American SmokeOut.

This causes marketing activities other than corporate philanthropy, which consists of direct monetary gifts to a non-profit organization. These donations often come from the foundations of society and support a particular program that the non-profit organization performs, short or long-term.

From the experience gained with the collaboration with the American consulting company Catalist Marketing, DEMIX GROUP has been involved in carrying out marketing causes initiatives including: Cooperative ECOMO (Ivory Coast and Guinea) for the production and on-site processing of coffee, cocoa and rubber by 250 families of local sharecroppers, with subsequent worldwide distribution of the finished product; Multicultural Association “I Due Mondi” (Latin America) specializes in international cooperation with Italy through social assistance and cultural promotion activities in favor of immigrant citizens; cluster MEDCO Middle Oriental Development Company (Middle East) to support the development of innovative start-up projects.