We’ve commented over the past few months about why and how cause marketing is an increasingly valuable strategy to drive consumer trust and loyalty for companies as the economy worsens. No doubt it remains a win-win strategy for nonprofit organizations, as well. Cause can dramatically increase sales (resulting in funds for both the corporate and nonprofit partners), but its power to drive awareness may be even more feasible and enticing to nonprofits right now. In a recent news blurb (“’Idol Gives’ The Donations – Finally,” January 1, 2009), The NonProfit Times reports that American Idol Gives Back, the highly publicized cause effort in which millions of viewers helped raised more than $64 million in 2008 for several charities, has finally awarded the donations to the organizations, a full six months later. What struck us about the article, however, is not the time it took to allocate the money, but this quote by Malaria No More’s communications director, “The exposure on American Idol is invaluable for a disease like malaria…You can’t put a price tag on the ability to educate more than 30 million Americans about a crisis halfway around the world in the context of their favorite TV show.” He concludes, “We were flooded with interest and support.”
Unfortunately, Malaria No More and the other nonprofit recipients won’t have the benefit of such a forum courtesy of American Idol this year. It has been reported that Idol Gives Back won’t air this season, likely as a result of the recession. Beyond the millions of dollars raised directly, the decision is also disappointing because it takes away a powerful outlet for awareness-building for several worthwhile organizations. Here’s why:
Cone’s research confirms that upon learning about a corporate-nonprofit partnership, 42 percent of Americans are more likely to tell a friend about the charity, 36 percent are more likely to donate money, 29 percent are more likely to participate in the charity’s programs and events and almost a quarter (23 percent) are more likely to volunteer. Shopping aside, the exposure that cause marketing programs bring to nonprofit organizations and social and environmental issues is tremendous.
Let’s hope American Idol reconsiders its decision in 2010, and in the meantime, others step in to be a voice that can help deliver both funds and awareness for nonprofit organizations addressing critical issues.