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The rise of meaningfulness and cause marketing

Have you ever found yourself pausing and asking, “What’s my purpose?”

You’re not alone. It’s a question that can randomly dawn on people, hopefully motivating them to explore further to figure out what their overall purpose could be.As mentioned in a recent Groupthinkers episode featuring nonprofit brand consultant Afdhel Aziz, people are now searching for purpose more than ever. Especially people in commercial organizations.

To put it another way,  after years of nonprofit marketers chasing corporate tactics, tech and approaches, we have arrived in a space where the commercial now craves what the nonprofit has:  purpose.

Like many, I spent years following a corporate way of thinking, and on my journey to finding my overall purpose, decided to start working in the nonprofit sector. I’m not alone in this switch, as shown by the 2018 significantly increased existential crisis of marketers—and now a rise of purpose is upon us.

Throwing fuel on the fire is the likes of Nike, whose 30th anniversary campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick has resulted in critical acclaim, with AdAge crowning Nike as Marketer of the Year for 2018.What does this mean for nonprofits?

Be prepared

Now is the time to create a deck, or, at least, refine your elevator speech to pitch your organization to corporations. That means reflection, but also potentially planning and committing resources to develop assets that highlight what you do and how you do it.

Be strategic

Think through your mission, and the opportunities you have to align with commercial organizations who have the same values as you. If you’re a local/regional organization, this might be a small to medium business. If you’re a national organization, consider how you can illustrate your mission as a value proposition to commercially focused brands.

Be filtered

Some nonprofits have invested in resources that are dedicated to corporate outreach. Many haven’t, so it falls to other members of the development department to manage these corporate relationships. Your nonprofit’s mission should always be the most important factor when making any and all decisions. This isn’t a sponsorship opportunity. A corporate/cause engagement is the equivalent of PDA between you and an organization. Your mission is important.

Be creative

Some of the best applications of purpose-driven marketing might not bring limelight to your organization.  Case in point:  if a commercial organization offers you the chance to apply their contribution to a matching gift campaign, the donation goes farther, helping you find more mission-minded donors who have the potential to be committed to your cause long-term. That may be more creative and beneficial to your mission versus a flash-in-the-pan event, searching for virality.  Creativity in purpose marketing means making the relationships count, on both sides.

As you begin 2019—now is the time to prioritize your nonprofit’s story to connect and align with like-minded brands.

Justin McCord

Justin McCord is the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing at RKD Group, leading the sales and marketing teams. Justin oversees brand management, business development and content marketing for RKD, and he hosts the award-winning Groupthinkers podcast. He is also a regular speaker and contributor to nonprofit marketing events, helping shine a light on current issues and progressive strategies to align channels and improve connection.

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