Stevan Miller and Clark Sweat taught a Cause Marketing 202 for Nonprofits workshop immediately following #CMF11. They began with a 10 Step Checklist to evaluate any cause marketing program. It’s a fantastic tool.
The most important and non-negotiable step?
Step One: Develop Measurable Goals and Outcomes
Ask yourself this question posed by Stevan: “If I called your cause marketing partner right now, would they tell me the exact same goals and outcomes for your partnership that you’re telling me?”
You might respond, “Sure, we both know the donation amount.”
What are the other outcomes besides the revenue? If you can’t answer that question, you’d better go back to your partner and obtain clarification – today. No partnership will have longevity unless each partner is crystal clear on shared goals, objectives and outcomes.
How to get this from your corporate partner? Start with this request: “Articulate for me what a successful cause partnerships looks like to you.” Is it increased awareness for their brand? How will you measure that? Is it public recognition for their contribution? How often? Where? Via which channels?
Prepare for A Moving Target
Many nonprofit professionals get frustrated when they spend copious amounts of time and energy doing the steps above only to have the corporate partner change their mind about priorities mid-stream. Whether precipitated by staffing changes or changes in senior management or simply overlooking an outcome, this is a reality. The best strategy to deal with this moving target reality according to Stevan? Be proactive in preparing for it and have a good attitude.
It’s one thing to develop measurement goals and outcomes once. It’s quite another to continue the dialogue and keep it living. It’s critical to get all goals and outcomes in written format so you have something to revisit when the time arrives. Developing a common vocabulary referencing these goals and outcomes is also helpful and can be used even in the most basic of communications with corporate partners.
Have the Right Attitude
The reality is, corporate priorities will evolve and your partnership needs to be prepared to evolve along with them. As you get to know your corporate partner better, additional assets may surface from each partner that could be incorporated into the partnership. Accept that this is a reality and plan for the inevitable.
That said, ditch the “We’re just so grateful that you’ve chosen us!” attitude. Remember that your brand is as important as any other brand. Simply because your business model involves raising money does not mean you must or should agree to all requests. It’s more important to show appreciation – by identifying how partners like to be appreciated – than to blanket them with gratitude.
You need to maintain leverage in order to negotiate successfully with partners. Developing a relationship based on mutual appreciation and respect sets the stage for a long-term, enjoyable partnership.
What’s your opinion about what’s non-negotiable in cause marketing partnerships? Anything else missing?