Cause marketing is nothing new. Businesses have been partnering with nonprofits for decades in an effort to give back to the community and bolster their reputations for corporate citizenship, in lieu of simply writing a check.
While nonprofits undoubtedly benefit from the relationship, it’s usually the big business who ends up looking like the hero; swooping in and raising up the tiny charity, then benefiting from all the positive PR. Rather than begging big businesses to collaborate with them, there are three things nonprofits can do to turn the tables and woo cause marketing partners.

Dawn Cause MarketingAdopt Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing describes the combination of SEO, content marketing and social media as a way of attracting visitors to your website – as opposed to outbound marketing, which pushes your messaging out towards an unsuspecting audience. Nonprofits who master inbound marketing will be more attractive to corporate marketers because of the additional promotional power you can bring to the table. Creating high-quality content (blog posts, videos, etc.) and being active on social media can improve your search engine visibility and get yourself on the radar of corporate marketers.

Identify and Leverage Brand Champions

Who are your most rabid fans? Perhaps they’re the volunteers who show up to every event, or the board members who display the most passion, or the Twitter followers who always share your content. These are your brand evangelists, and they may have existing relationships with potential cause marketing partners – employers, family/friends, neighbors, etc. Encourage them to spread the word about your organization and brainstorm potential campaign ideas.

Experiment With Solo Campaigns

One way to show off your creativity and willingness to try something bold is to execute your own individual campaigns. Run an online contest, hold a special event or organize a crowd-funding campaign – all in an effort to promote awareness towards the cause you support, not necessarily your own organization. If you can show more passion for your cause, rather than just adding to your operating budget, your organization will gain credibility and a reputation for being a true cause advocate.

According to IEG research, corporate marketers spent $1.11 billion on cause-related sponsorships in 2005. Today’s corporate marketers will want to collaborate with nonprofits who have a significant online community and vocal supporters – so if your nonprofit wants to tap into those financial resources and attract corporate partners, start boosting your online presence! Even a small partnership can lead to big results.

Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck

Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang
Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to "Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition" and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member, and sits on the faculty of the Institute for Charitable Giving. He is the author of Robots Make Bad Fundraisers - How Nonprofits Can Maintain the Heart in the Digital Age, published by Bold and Bright Media.