Giving and getting, two words used interchangeably throughout the holiday season. This is the time of year when people, more so than any other time of year, think about what they can do for others. Cause marketing to the rescue! This year, some of the same ones return, while others are venturing into the mix. Some are focused more on giving, while others are more about giving to get something in return. Examples of the first kind from this year are listed in a recent USA Today article and are as follows:
- Hasbro and generationOn: Every time a child or teen pledges to volunteer with youth service organization generationOn, Hasbro will donate a toy through Toys for Tots up to 100,000 toys.
Wal-Mart - Wal-Mart is empowering consumers to nominate non-profits and show the good being done in their local community, with winning non-profits receiving a portion of a $1.5 million grant this holiday season. Through November 30th they’re excepting submissions to their “12 Days of Giving” Facebook campaign with winners being announced daily from December 12th to December 23rd.
-Macys continues its involvement with Make-A-Wish Foundation, with $1 donations going to Make-A-Wish Foundation for every letter to Santa dropped into its red mailbox. Part of its “Believe” campaign.
-JCPenney teams up with the Salvation Army for the third year in a row with its “Salvation Army Angel Giving Tree Online” campaign, allowing shoppers to provide children and seniors in need with Christmas gifts. This year consumers also have the option to make a mobile or iPad donation.
Unfortunately, there are also some causes that feel the need to provide rewards in return. USA Today’s Christie Garton covers these and hints at the interchangeable meaning of giving and getting, as the focus on “what’s in it for me?” begins to take on a more tangible feel http://usat.ly/vXYVs0. Two of the websites she names focus on this kind of cause marketing. Charitybuzz.com calls its campaign “Gifts That Give Twice Holiday Auction”. Here people bid on celebrity experiences, like hanging out with Jonah Hill or meeting Christina Aguilera, and proceeds support various non-profits around the world. Another, from eBay called “eBay Celebrity” is similar, with people bidding on dream holiday gift options like meeting Brad Pitt. Kind of makes you rethink what charitable giving should be all about, which is another way of saying this kind sounds more selfish than selfless. There is a saying that points out you should give expecting nothing in return, but these examples are just giving in order to get something. Not the type of cause marketing I’d like to be associated with, and I would hate to see cause marketing continue down this route. It shouldn’t take bribing people with a reward to prompt them to donate. The only type of rewards cause marketing campaign that should exist is one that’s tied to an existing element of the company, like Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola is getting into the act by capitalizing on their iconic use of polar bears, promising $1 million to World Wildlife Fund upfront and matching up to $1 million in additional donations made with package codes through March 15, 2012 http://bit.ly/vmelTx. Naturally this involves the MyCokeRewards Program, but here it makes more sense. With Coca-Cola you’re getting something good for supporting actual good works, the difference here is that Coca-Cola’s campaign is more about good works with rewards being a bonus. Giving and getting shouldn’t be interchangeable here, the first shouldn’t automatically beget the other. It’s time to bring cause marketing back to its roots, which is using creativity and creative campaigns to motivate people to give. Doing good should reap its own rewards; any other rewards should be a bonus and not a focal point to justify these actions. Whether you’re a consumer or a marketer, don’t take the ’cause’ out of cause marketing. Support cause marketing for what it is, the chance to utilize your skills, in one case, and your pocketbooks, in both cases, to do some good in the world. Ultimately, a way for everyone to give back and feel good in return.