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Doing good is good business

By Nicole Sirak

The Treasure Valley is bursting with nonprofit/for-profit partnerships and has been for years.

River front property owners donated their land for what is now our beloved Greenbelt. The Idaho Shakespeare Festival grew from a small theater performing on a grassy knoll in front of a local business to a nationally renowned theatre company. A small group of committed citizens with a plan to simply place a plaque on the greenbelt morphed into the Idaho Human Rights Education Center. Boise is home to a creative bunch of business leaders and philanthropists who often band together to benefit more than their bottom lines.

At Family Advocates, an organization that runs the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program for kids in foster care and a family-strengthening program called Families First, here’s how we have sought to increase our cause-related marketing opportunities:

• Fisher’s Document Systems’ Chairman Gary Mahn’s recent TV commercial featured Family Advocates, which is a Fisher’s customer. One of Fisher’s senior managers serves on the Family Advocate’s Board, and the company donates large-scale printing for the agency’s public awareness events.

• Intermountain Gas prints the agency’s newsletter, which we recognize in our publications, reaching 3,700 people while saving the agency $3,000 a year. Family Advocates’ parent educators teach brown bag lunches to our partner’s employees during lunch hours to help them become better parents and relieve some of the stress that comes from being a hard-working parent.

Cone Communications in Boston has been studying these types of partnerships since 1993, releasing annual surveys of customers’ attitudes towards for-profit ventures that partner with non-profit causes. The term “cause-related marketing” emerged from their work, which resulted in some compelling statistics about these win-win collaborations.

According to the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study, “Aligning with a cause is translating into purchasing. Forty-one percent of Americans say they purchase a product because it was associated with a cause or issue in the last year – doubling since we first began measuring in 1993 (20 percent). We also know cause-branding not only drives purchase, but it also serves as a powerful differentiator. Eighty percent of Americans are likely to switch brands to one that supports a cause.

“Moms and Millennials are the two most sought-after consumer marketing segments for a reason. Moms control about 80 percent of the household shopping, and college-aged Millennials’ have near $40 billion in discretionary income to spend. Still, each wants to shop wisely, and more than any other demographic groups tested, they buy with an eye toward the greater good,” Cone stated in its 2010 report.

As the seasons turn to one of giving, I hope these ideas spark more ways we can all work together, stretch our resources, build our business, and satisfy our customers’ all at the same time. Forming bonds between for-profit and nonprofit businesses is one profitable way to meet business needs – growth, customer retention and recruiting, and maintaining the bottom line.
Nicole Sirak is the executive director of Family Advocates in Boise, raising funds and working to involve the community in programs that keep children who are abused or neglected safe, while partnering with parents to build strong families.

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