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10 Experts, 10 Predictions, 1 Year

by Research & Insights

Last month we looked back at the top trends of 2011, but now that the New Year is upon us, it's time to look forward to what 2012 has in store. We've convened the biggest and brightest minds in cause marketing, corporate responsibility, nonprofit marketing and volunteerism to share their top predictions, programs and issues for the New Year.

As for our perspective, we say look out for an influx of disruptive campaigns in 2012. The cause industry continues to mature, and with the flood of new campaigns in the market, companies and nonprofits must do more to make sure their cause stands out in the chatter. Companies will make bigger and braver commitments, support broader and bolder issues and increasingly go out on a limb all in the name of cause. We'll also see more companies support niche causes and partner with smaller, more nimble nonprofits for further differentiation. Let's shake things up this year!

 

 Prediction


Joe Waters, Blogger, Selfishgiving.com; Co-Author, Cause Marketing for Dummies

"My one cause marketing prediction is that by the end of 2012, we'll finally have a mobile donation platform for smartphones that consumers will use for everyday giving. Text-to-give works for disasters, but there's no good vehicle for regular giving for mobile donors that has any momentum in the marketplace. That could change this coming year."

Joanne Fritz, Writer, About.com, Nonprofit & Charitable Orgs

"Donors will rebel against charity contests. Contests have peaked and will decline in participation. Charities are tired of competing, and supporters are sick of promoting companies."

Ryan Scott, CEO, Causecast
"2012 will see the rise of the employee activist. As 2011 saw the second coming of the consumer activist with powers heretofore inconceivable, the new year will bring the awakening of the most powerful brand ambassadors - the employees. This year employees will awaken to the opportunity they have to create real change inside the corporation and in their communities, simultaneously. Corporations will embrace the chance to help their employees to make that change."

Aman Singh, Editorial Director, CSRWire; CSR Blogger
"As CSR and sustainability continue to converge into ‘business excellence,' we will see a growing recognition within executive ranks to understand, recognize and leverage the value of a responsible and sustainable work culture. 2012 just might be the year when change management becomes institutionalized as a prerequisite for growth and profitability."

Casey Brennan, Marketing Manager, VolunteerMatch
"Companies will lead volunteer engagement: It's a known fact that individuals volunteer less during tough economic times. In addition, government budgets were cut, meaning there will be less government investment rallying citizens to volunteer. It will be companies who step in to encourage individuals and employees to volunteer - not just because they're trying to fill the void, but because it has a direct impact on the health of their business. Consumers want to see companies making authentic, sustainable efforts for the betterment of society, and there's no better way than helping others make a local impact. In addition, a well-run employee volunteer program positively contributes to staff recruitment, retention and productivity, helping individuals feel like they're having a positive impact on society through their place of employment."

Kate Olsen, Senior Manager, Partnerships at Network for Good
"In 2012, we are going to see a deeper integration of social business values into cause-related initiatives. Through social channels, business, culture and media collide at Web 2.0 speed, disrupting entrenched paradigms and elevating the voice of the individual. It's that voice (from both consumers and employees) that will keep companies transparent, authentic and impact-oriented – and ultimately shape the future of corporate-cause partnerships."

David Hessekiel, President, Cause Marketing Forum
"We will see a major giving back initiative capture the imagination of the country in 2012 and serve as a unifying force much as the LiveStrong bracelet did back in 2004."

Dipti Pratt, Marketing Director, Entrepreneurs Foundation
"Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will continue to become more completely integrated and visible throughout company operations. As companies continue to incorporate CSR into overall corporate operations, CSR professionals will have the opportunity to deepen the social impact of their CSR programs. In addition to greater social impact, companies will experience greater overall corporate and cultural benefits from their CSR programs. The increased focus on CSR will have a positive and meaningful impact on society, corporations and the employees of these corporations alike."

Katya Andresen, Chief Strategy Officer, Network for Good; Blogger, Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog

"We will see cause campaigns shift from a company-centric to consumer-centric perspective. Instead of campaigns that tread into self-congratulatory territory ('our company is so great because we support this cause'), we'll see a strong step toward campaigns that empower the consumer to effect social change with companies' support. The spotlight will be on the consumer rather than the corporation. Just as companies have had to shift from a broadcast to a relationship model in social media, they will do so in their cause marketing work as well. They know it's the best way to win over consumers and drive business objectives."

Program

Joe Waters, Blogger, Selfishgiving.com; Co-Author, Cause Marketing for Dummies
“The one cause marketing program to watch in 2012 will be online giving programs with e-tailers. Online checkout programs are just beginning to percolate (e.g., GoDaddy.com and Delivery.com). Expect one or more large e-tailers to join the space before the end of 2012. They'll raise millions!”

Joanne Fritz, Writer, About.com, Nonprofit & Charitable Orgs
“I'll be watching DonorsChoose. This organization just keeps getting better. Education is a crucial issue, people love connecting with specific projects, and it's a win-win for corporate partners.”

Ryan Scott, CEO, Causecast
“2012 will see the democratization of cause integration technology. This technology enables even small companies to realize the real bottom line benefits of engaging with causes. Specifically, they'll engage their consumers via cause marketing, their supply chains via CSR, and their employees via workforce giving and volunteering campaigns.”

Aman Singh, Editorial Director, CSRWire; CSR Blogger
“Patagonia’s Common Thread Initiative: Will it teach us conscious consumption?”

Casey Brennan, Marketing Manager, VolunteerMatch
“LinkedIn is working to bake the LinkedIn for Good program into everything it does – showing a commitment to authenticity that is worth watching. The program’s mission is to 'connect the talent and passion of professionals with opportunities to use their skills to make a positive impact on the world.' In 2011, LinkedIn rolled out a Volunteer/Causes field on professional profiles, showcasing the importance these attributes have on professional identity. LinkedIn is positioning itself as a catalyst for community involvement by promoting how its tools can be used for the greater good and building its program into the ethos of the organization. In 2012, we are sure to see further strides toward harnessing the power of its people and network for positive impact.”

Kate Olsen, Senior Manager, Partnerships at Network for Good
“I’ll be watching the evolution of cause marketing initiatives that genuinely reflect an underlying commitment to sustainability and responsibility. In 2011, companies such as Levi’s, Dell and Coke added a new dimension to their marketing through bold campaigns linked to social issues at the core of their sustainability strategies. I hope more companies step up with meaningful initiatives tied to fundamental CR values.”

David Hessekiel, President, Cause Marketing Forum
“Procter & Gamble will continue to impress with the breadth and depth of its corporate and brand-specific programs.”

Dipti Pratt, Marketing Director, Entrepreneurs Foundation
“Skills-based volunteering has been a growing focus area in CSR departments over the last few years. An interesting approach starting to take form is one that IBM has had in place since 2008, having employees visit and volunteer in emerging markets. The volunteers leverage their skills over the course of four weeks to focus on economic development projects in the countries they visit. In addition to the community benefit from these programs, participants also learn valuable leadership development skills. IBM’s program, the Corporate Service Corps, has sent over 1,200 participants on over 100 teams to more than 20 countries around the world. More information on IBM’s program can be found at http://www.ibm.com/ibm/responsibility/corporateservicecorps/index.html.”

Katya Andresen, Chief Strategy Officer, Network for Good; Blogger, Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog

“I’m going to be watching the model of nonprofit retail by for-profit retailers as a way to build brand inroads into communities. We’ve seen Panera start restaurants where you pay what you choose and profits go to charity. Then Nordstrom chose to open their first Manhattan store as the nonprofit Treasure & Bond. The result of these early experiments could be very influential in the future behavior of retailers and the lengths to which they will go to generate consumer goodwill.”

Issue

Joe Waters, Blogger, Selfishgiving.com; Co-Author, Cause Marketing for Dummies
“I'm not sure what social or environmental issue will be trending in the new year, but I am curious if cause marketing programs involving the troops will continue with the same fervor they did this past year. Now that the troops are home from Iraq, will consumer support for veterans programs wane despite the ongoing war in Afghanistan? Only time will tell.”

Joanne Fritz, Writer, About.com, Nonprofit & Charitable Orgs

“Economic inequality is the big issue for 2012. The gap between the rich and even the middle class resonates with a shockingly large number of people. Luxury products in the name of charity will be seen by consumers as heartless indulgence by the wealthy.”

Ryan Scott, CEO, Causecast
“I don't see a single trend but a shift in the relationship between corporations and the issues their stakeholders care about. 2012 will see a greater realization of the bottom line benefits from a corporation's genuine commitment to cause. Capitalism is not the enemy - it's an essential part of the solution. Employees and consumers want to feel good about what they are doing and the impact they are having on the world. They will support companies that make them feel that way - and abandon those that don't.”

Aman Singh, Editorial Director, CSRWire; CSR Blogger

“Jobs: Domestic unemployment and underemployment must take center stage in 2012 as a social issue for every organization. Economic empowerment is the only way to growth and stability. In 2012, corporations must retrain their minds – and balance sheets – to count the workforce as indispensable assets in their global performance.”

Casey Brennan, Marketing Manager, VolunteerMatch
“Economic development. With ongoing economic turmoil, the nation will continue to struggle to get people back to work and the economy stabilized. Companies may take a literal approach to economic development, as Starbucks has with its 'Create Jobs for USA'. Others will recognize the issue of economic development by supporting more local social services. In essence, there is a long road ahead to economic recovery, and we will all do our best to share in the fight toward stability, whether literally through cash needs, or by supporting organizations that serve the immediate needs of citizens hit by the downturn.”

Kate Olsen, Senior Manager, Partnerships at Network for Good
“The state of the economy will remain in the headlines for sure. Trust in institutions and one-size-fits-all answers will remain low, but grassroots, locally-driven solutions will provide hope. I’m encouraged that companies seem to be listening to organized individuals suggesting alternatives to business-as-usual. In the age of social media, these ideas have the power to spread and incite change. Just look at the impact of one Causes on Facebook user’s “Bank Transfer Day”: in response to new debit card fees, her post inspired 75,000 people to pledge to move their assets from large banks to credit unions.”

David Hessekiel, President, Cause Marketing Forum
“Creating jobs in the USA.”

Dipti Pratt, Marketing Director, Entrepreneurs Foundation
“Limited resources combined with an ever-expanding global population continue to impact and trouble citizens worldwide. Companies continue to explore how they can have real impact on the conservation and replenishment of world resources through their sustainability and CSR initiatives. In 2012, the conversations and innovation around how to do more with less will become more critical to corporations and CSR/sustainability executives. Particular emphasis will continue to be around water stewardship as companies work to identify how their own operations can contribute to water conservation efforts."

Katya Andresen, Chief Strategy Officer, Network for Good; Blogger, Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog
“In the words of political operatives, 'it’s the economy, stupid.' It’s going to dominate everything. People are hurting, they’re angry and they’re distrustful of government and companies. That situation will shape our politics, patterns of consumerism and philanthropy all year long.”

 

 

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