Cause Marketing: How to Incorporate Fundraising into your Marketing


91% of global consumers prefer businesses that care about more than simply making money. Incorporating fundraising into your marketing can be a powerful way to do good and grow your business at the same time–but only when done well.

Many businesses are missing out on great opportunities or worse still are wasting time and resources with their fundraising efforts. I explain why in my blog Cause Marketing: 10 Common Fundraising Mistakes Small Businesses Make. In this blog, I take you through a simple nine-step process to follow if you want to incorporate fundraising into your marketing–joyfully, effectively and legally. So that you stand a better chance of GROWING your business by doing so–known as Cause Marketing.

There’s a lot to share on this topic and so the purpose of this article is to give you an overview. I share free resources for further reference throughout the article and I cover this topic in more detail in both my Give-to-Profit Book and Online Give-to-Profit Fundraising Challenge. You can also listen to an audio version of this blog on the Give-to-Profit Podcast HERE

The Nine Steps to Incorporating Fundraising into your Marketing

I’ve found that you’ll have the greatest positive impact, and return on your efforts, when you embrace these nine steps, in this particular order:

1   Get clear on your ‘why’

Most people who choose to raise funds for causes through their business do so because they have a cause close to their hearts they want to support, they want to ‘give back’ or there is a particular social or environmental problem they want to help solve.

Whatever your reason, the first thing it’s worth doing is getting clear on why you want to incorporate fundraising into your business. Knowing this will help you decide the best cause(s) to support and partner with as well as the best fundraising strategies to adopt.

Start by asking yourself:

  • Why do I want to do this?
  • What impact do I want to have?
  • How would I like my business to benefit from my fundraising?
  • What personal needs could I get met through my fundraising?

Your ‘why’ relates to what will be different as a direct consequence of your fundraising e.g. a particular project you want to fund or problem you want to help solve.

So, for instance, I’m currently raising funds to build a school in Cambodia. This is the ‘why’ for my most of my fundraising activities at the moment. In the past, I’ve raised funds to sponsor Rwandan genocide survivors, for my humanitarian trips and various projects to tackle homelessness in Scotland. Recently I’ve also defined a social impact mission statement for my business and aligned my business with the UN Global Sustainability Goals. My social impact mission statement (that reflects my ‘why’) is to improve the lives of a million people–by making it easy for businesses to be a profitable force for good AND for me to support causes that tackle poverty, education and social justice. 

You don’t need a social impact mission statement before you start your fundraising, but it is worth getting clear on your ‘why’. 

2   Choose a charity or cause to support

Once you’re clear on your ‘why’ and the impact you want to have, it’s now time to decide which cause to support if you don’t already have one in mind.

Obviously, if you already have a cause close to your heart that you want to support through your business that’s great. You could go straight to the next step although I do suggest that you first check out a couple of things I’m about to come on to with them.

If you don’t know which cause to support yet, you’re not alone. Lots of people I speak to come with the desire to do good in the world but don’t have a cause in mind. That was me too–until I got clear on the type of cause that would be a good fit for you, your business and the impact you want to have.

I cover how to do this in my blog: How to Choose a Charity of Social Cause to Support Through Your Business. In addition to what I share in that blog and my Give-to-Profit book, it’s also worth establishing:

  • What support or resources do they have for businesses that are raising funds for them?
  • Do they have a nominated person or team to support business fundraisers, or at least someone you can speak to about your fundraising?

3   Set your fundraising goal

Decide how much money you’d like to raise and set time frame for achieving this. Part of this process is defining any specific benefits or impacts you’d like for you, your business and the cause. Metrics that will help you choose the best fundraising ideas to implement and to measure the impact of your fundraising rather than simply the value of funds raised.

4   Come up with compelling fundraising ideas

Now it’s time to get your creative juices running and to come up with highly attractive fundraising ideas that will appeal to your customers and your wider business network. The easiest way to incorporate fundraising into your business is to consider existing activities you could add a fundraising element too. It is however also worth considering new or one-off activities what would appeal to your audience. You’re not deciding which idea to go with at this stage just brainstorming ideas and identify your top 2-3 ideas.

Download my ebook 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Causes Through Your Business HERE

5   Optimise your impact and decide which idea(s) to implement

Ahead of deciding which idea(s) to implement the next step is to consider how you could expand, monetize and simply each of your favorite ideas for maximum impact and return on your investment.

One tool I use to explore this is what I call the 7+ Win Model.

You’ve probably heard of win-win solutions and may be aware of the triple win approach The 7+ Win Model takes things further than simply considering your ideas from the perspective of you, your business and the cause e.g. by also considering the resources that are available through each party’s networks. 

6   Plan to succeed

Now it’s time to plan, allocate resources and define timelines in a similar way you would for any other business goals or projects. Additional tasks to do when fundraising include:

  • Speak to your chosen cause to find out how they like to partner with businesses, whether they have a cause marketing agreement and/or partnership agreement for you to use, how they prefer donations to be processed, what data they can provide that shows the tangible difference your donations have made and whether they could support your fundraising efforts,

  • Check out what cause marketing legislation applies to you and take steps to comply with this. This is often based on the country your business is located, the scope of fundraising activities and/or the type of cause you’re raising funds for. See my blog on Cause Marketing: Legislation and Best Practices.

  • Get legal and taxation advice (if needed) to comply with cause marketing legislation and to work out the best way for you to collect and process donations.

  • Marketing – update all relevant processes and communications e.g. your email/blog footers, social media profiles, and website as appropriate. Where you’re creating one-off fundraising activities that don’t form part of another marketing or sales plan, create a marketing plan for your fundraising to communicate what you’re doing, canvass support and generate donations.

  • Engage your clients and people in your business community in your fundraising activities.

  • Define how you will measure your impact and return on investment in the form of key performance indicators (KPIs) and/or critical success factors (CSFs). By doing this at the start you can monitor your progress and gather useful data, media, and stories while working towards your fundraising goal. You could use this to engage stakeholders during your fundraising as well as to help demonstrate your impact later on.

  • Update all relevant processes including all aspects of your marketing, client servicing, bookkeeping, and management information.

If you want help with this and in implementing your fundraising ideas, you can get access to more in-depth training materials and ongoing support from me through the Give-to-Profit Fundraising Challenge.

7   Implement your ideas and monitor your progress

This simply involves doing what you have scoped out in your plan and monitoring your progress towards key deliverables, with other stakeholders where relevant.

8   Celebrate your success and measure your impact

Once you’ve reached your fundraising goal, or come to the end of the timeframe you set for your fundraising, it’s time to measure and evaluate your success, and to celebrate your achievements. Especially if you’ve achieved your goal and/or this is the first time you’ve raised funds through your business! This is definitely something to celebrate.

Measuring and evaluating your fundraising will help you determine which fundraising strategies work best and will give you the information you can share with people who are interested in the good you’re doing. Remember, consumers, staff and investors now prefer businesses that are contributing to society, so you need to have accurate information about your fundraising to share with them.

You may also have other stakeholders who influence how your business allocates resources e.g. a board of directors or shareholders who will need information on the effectiveness of your fundraising campaign to justify allocating resources to similar activities in the future.

The type of things it’s good to consider include:

  • What have you achieved?
  • How do you feel about the funds you’ve raised?
  • What impact will raising these funds have?
  • How do you feel about the difference the funds raised will make?
  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work well?
  • What insights or learning are you taking away from this?
  • What would you do differently next time?

Before you can accurately answer these questions, you need to measure your success. One of the ways I suggest doing this is relative to the critical success factors (or key performance indicators) you defined when you were planning your fundraising campaign (step six above).

For further information on how to measure the impact of your fundraising, check out my blog How to Measure Your Impact or my Give-to-Profit Book.

9   Share your story

Some people feel hesitant about sharing their charitable giving, as though it’s more honorable not to talk about your philanthropy. When you do this personally that’s fine but it’s different when fundraising through your business. If your customers, audience, business partners and stakeholders are to perceive you as a business and brand that cares about more than simply making money, you need to tell them what you’re doing.

Obviously, when you’re incorporating fundraising into your marketing to promote what you’re doing at the start, you’ll already have shared some aspects (e.g. your reasons for doing this and the details of your fundraising campaign) in your marketing and sales literature. But that’s only the part of the story. Continuing to share your progress towards your fundraising goals together with providing interesting updates e.g. in the form of videos or letters from those who have benefited from your fundraising will help people feel more connected to your brand. Again I share more about to do this in my Give-to-Profit book.

Core message: incorporating fundraising into your marketing and business can be a powerful way to grow your business but only when it’s done well. These nine steps will help you do that–joyfully, effectively and legally.

If you I hope you’ve found this article helpful. 

Some people at the early stages of doing this find it a bit overwhelming, but is really quite straightforward when you take it one step at a time.

Personally, I’ve found incorporating fundraising into my marketing has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Not only has it helped me grow my business in terms of more clients, income, new products/services opened doors, and means I’m surrounded by people who share similar values. By embracing the part of me that wants to do good in the world into my business rather than keeping it at the door has unleashed a much deeper sense of connection and satisfaction in my heart I didn’t have before.

Please do connect and share your thoughts, experiences or questions on this topic with me on social media.

You’re also welcome to join the Give-to-Profit Fundraising Challenge anytime where I teach business owners, entrepreneurs of micro and SMEs how to use fundraising to help grow their business and do good at the same time. It’s an online course you work through at your own pace with an online forum and live Q&A calls to help you implement your fundraising ideas. Click here to find out more.

As always, remember business is a great opportunity to be kind and what you do next matters…

Kind wishes, 

P.S. If you want to learn how to grow your business by incorporating fundraising into your marketing or business, check out the Give-to-Profit Fundraising Challenge

Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to improve the lives of a million people – by making it easy for businesses to be a profitable force for good, and through her support of causes that tackle poverty, education and social justice.

Alisoun’s keynote talks, training, mentoring, and best-selling books Give-to-Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities and Social Causes and Heartatude: The 9 Principles of Heart-Centered Success have favorably changed the good fortune of thousands of people worldwide. She loves doing humanitarian work, fundraising and living by the beach in Scotland.

Alisoun is also the founder of an online business training academy and has written the following free resources:

  • Ebook: 101 Ways To Attract Great Clients, With Heart, Integrity & Social Impact (click here)
  • Ebook: 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Charities and Social Causes Through Your Business (click here)
  • Ebook: The 9 Secrets to Signing Up Clients Without Selling (click here)
  • The Online Course Creator Checklist – download here.

You can connect with Alisoun here:

  • Alisoun’s website – www.alisoun.com 
  • Alisoun Mackenzie Facebook Fanpage – click HERE
  • Give To Profit Facebook Fanpage – click HERE
  • Linkedin – click HERE
  • Twitter – @AlisounMac
  • Youtube – click HERE

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