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Teach a Cause to Fish

by Research & Insights

To infuse passion into a cause, organizations can look to this classic adage for inspiration - “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In the cause-related marketing space, we’re seeing this concept play out as some organizations offer not just philanthropic dollars and product tie-ins, but the actual tools and infrastructure needed to empower consumers to rally their own supporters for the cause.  

Case in point is the recently launched Bisquick Pancake Nation (Cone client), which provides consumers with the tools they need to host a successful pancake breakfast in support of a cause. Bisquick bypassed the more traditional cause route (i.e., donating a portion of sales) and instead is offering a collection of resources to help the organizers of the nation’s many community pancake breakfasts plan, promote and execute successful events.  The Web site offers everything from pancake recipes to signage templates and downloadable placemats. In addition, there are grants available for organizations to promote their events.

Other recent examples of “teach a cause to fish” include Macy’s holiday 2009 “Come+Together” campaign and Yahoo’s 2009 year-end “You In?” campaign. Macy’s approach encouraged consumers to host a dinner party and ask guests to donate money to Feeding America (Cone client) in lieu of the traditional hostess gift. In addition to matching any donations, Macy’s provided celebrity recipe ideas/meal plans, invitations and music ideas to create the perfect dinner party. Yahoo harnessed the power of consumers by asking users to commit to random acts of kindness and use the Yahoo network to post their good deeds and encourage others to do the same.
Empowering consumers to lead cause efforts encourages a deeper level of engagement with both the brand and the issue and a bigger impact in the communities where it’s most needed.  When consumers have an active role in the program, they’ll be evangelists for your message and more likely to engage in future efforts, too.

Have you seen other examples of this approach?  Please share!




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Julie Lloyd

Great example of how cause marketing is continually evolving! Sunkist's 'Take a Stand' campaign is another recent example, very similar to Bisquick's.


Another example of a program that follows this motto is the Janus Charity Challenge (JCC). The JCC is a unique fundraising program that empowers athletes racing in a full-distance Ironman event to use their race as a way to fundraise for charity. Athletes have the opportunity to raise funds for ANY 501c3 nonprofit based in the US. Janus provides fundraising tips and tools to help make fundraising easy, and awards financial contributions to the 50 top fundraisers at each Ironman race.

Check out for more information!

Casey Brennan

Julie- Great example which made me think of another - Alex's Lemonade Stand:

Sunkist example:

Thanks for sharing!

Casey Brennan
Insights Associate

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