Cause Marketing Versus Philanthropy

Why is the difference between cause marketing and philanthropy important?

Because the way you raise and donate money to charity through your business, and how you communicate what you are doing, have an impact on whether cause marketing legislation applies.

In this post I explain the difference between cause marketing and philanthropy, to enable you to decide what would best suit you and your business. And whether you need to check out cause marketing legislation.

Read more or watch a short video I’ve recorded on this topic below.

Cause Marketing

Cause marketing relates to activities where a commercial business runs a charitable sales promotion or marketing campaign for mutual financial benefit. Examples of potential cause marketing activities include:

  • A business donating a proportion of sales or profits to a charity.
  • Action-triggered donations – where a company makes a donation when others take a specific action, e.g. when customers buy a product or share/like a social media post.
  • A business inviting buyers to make a donation to a selected charity, when they pay for products or services.

These, and many other activities, all fall under the remit of cause marketing and as such cause marketing legislation applies. I explain more about in my post Cause Marketing Best Practices.


Strategic or corporate philanthropy is where a commercial business makes donations to charitable causes without any expectation of commercial gain.

If consumers are not specifically asked to take action to trigger any giving this is usually considered corporate philanthropy rather than cause marketing. An example is where your business makes financial donations to charitable causes, but you don’t mention this in your marketing literature or sales campaigns.

I explain more about cause marketing and tips for growing a business by supporting causes in my Give-to-Profit Blog and my Give-to-Profit Book. There are also some good interviews on this topic on the Give-to-Profit Podcast.

I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts – please do share your comments and questions below.

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Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to empower business owners and entrepreneurs to grow fulfilling profitable businesses that make a difference in the world.

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 also hosts the Give-to-Profit Podcast, runs an online business training academy and has written the following free ebooks:

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

You can connect with Alisoun here:

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  • Alisoun Mackenzie Facebook Fanpage – click HERE
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