Traditional Fundraisers vs Cause Marketing

A Better Approach to Fundraising for Non-Profit Organizations


Every year Non-Profit Organizations face the daunting task of raising money to support themselves and the causes they support. A key component in raising this money is achieved through Fundraising.

The Problem: No one enjoys the task of fundraising and the very thought of it sends many people running in the opposite direction.

The hassles of setup, inventory, going door to door, bothering friends and family and neighbors are just a few of the reasons fundraisers are losing out and not making any money for non-profits. In a recent research study it was shown that 32% of all non-profit organizations reported a decrease in the amount of giving. So you are not alone in your fundraising woes.

The Solution: Cause Marketing

A Cause Marketing Solution allows you to increase revenue by attaching your cause (and your organization) to a product. Some great examples of this form of fundraising can be seen in your local stores. Newman’s Own Salad dressing or the little pink ribbon for Komen Breast Cancer research can be seen and are purchased all the time. In fact, 79% of American consumers said they would switch brands if they knew part of their money would go to helping and supporting a good cause.

Below you will find a direct comparison of Traditional Fundraising and Cause Marketing. I think you will see how Cause Marketing can be a better approach to your fundraising problems and help get your Non-Profit organization back to focusing on your mission and not on running a fundraiser.


Problem: Time

Traditional Fundraising: You have to set up your fundraiser by finding the right company to work with or organizing the place to have your sale. You have to work with your members and explain your fundraiser and hand out supplies (order forms, samples, etc…). You have to take time to collect and count money, place the order or check to see if all inventory is accounted for (ie candy bar sales, discount cards), and for some fundraisers deliver the product ordered (cookie dough, gift wrap) and for others take your entire day performing tasks (carwash). A lot of work for you and your membership.

Cause Marketing: There is a onetime set up to attach your cause to the product. Ordering, inventory, money collections, sales and all other tasks are handled by the parent company. All you have to do is mark down the money made in your check register.

Winner: Cause Marketing

Problem: Direct Sales

Traditional Fundraising: Your members (many time kids) have to go door to door soliciting funds for products. Or maybe they stand on a busy street corner with a sign to get people and their money involved. No matter the method, pretty much every fundraiser requires all or part of your organization to go out and SELL a product.

Cause Marketing: No sales required at all. The company sells the product and you get a portion of the proceeds. This is done at a retail store or through a website ordering system.

Winner: Cause Marketing

Problem: Inventory


Traditional Fundraising: If you are selling candy bars or discount cards or a variety of other traditional fundraising items you have to send your members out with handfuls of product to promote and sell. When your members are kids that is a risky situation at best. Even if you are doing cookie dough or wrapping paper you usually have to store the stuff and then send it out for delivery. Not what most of us signed up for when we became club sponsor or volunteered to help support a team or a cause.

Cause Marketing: Pretty much all inventory and product concerns are taken care of by the company that makes or sells the product. Either customers purchase directly from a retail store or they might go online and make a purchase through a website. Either way nothing for you to store, deliver or keep a count of. You just need to deposit the monthly check the parent company will be sending you.

Winner: Cause Marketing

Problem: Keeping track of sales and handling the money

Traditional Fundraising: Like inventory, you as the fundraising coordinator are responsible for keeping track of sales and the money involved. And again, if you are dealing with kids selling those candy bars that’s a lot of responsibility to be walking around door to door with merchandise and a bundle of cash. If you have ever been on the set up side of a fundraiser, you know how much of a pain it can be to hunt down all your members and get an accurate accounting of the money and the unused product. In simple terms – it’s a NIGHTMARE!

And don’t forget about taxes. Even if you, as a non-profit organization, are tax exempt it doesn’t mean the products you are selling will fall under the tax exempt status. Do you want the responsibility of figuring out and collecting sales tax?

Cause Marketing: Like inventory, the product, sales and MONEY are all handled by the company or store that is producing or selling the product. This is what they do every day and they are good at it. They take care of everything and just cut you a check.


Winner: Cause Marketing

Problem: Your customers are buying products they don’t really want or need they just do it to support you.

Traditional Fundraising: How many times have you bought some cookie dough or a discount card but didn’t ever want it or use it. I know when that kid is standing at my door asking me to support their soccer club I give them the $20 for the popcorn. It is only worth $3 and I really don’t want it but I like the kid and I want them to have a good year so…. SOLD! But I won’t do that every month and even after the 2nd or 3rd year of getting hit up for the some unneeded junk I start to balk and not purchase anymore.

Cause Marketing: Your fundraising is tied to products that people use on a daily / weekly / monthly basis. That means they are buying what they normally would like a food product or a household cleaner they are just switching brands to one that supports a good cause. Remember 79% of Americans say they would do this. That means you can make money every month and your supporters are not scared to answer the door or the phone. You are no longer avoided at parties because people won’t be afraid that you might hit them up to buy some wrapping paper. And, if you choose a company with a large product line you can make multiple sales throughout the month and year.

Winner: Cause Marketing

Problem: Limited Sales Opportunities

Traditional Fundraising: How many times can you send your members out to sell gourmet popcorn or wash cars? With traditional fundraising you can usually only get away with doing one or two a year and they might be tied to holidays so it limits the potential even more. Plus if you have read some of the problems tied to traditional fundraising above you might understand that as a coordinator in charge of fundraising you don’t want to deal with the headaches more than once or twice a year.


Cause Marketing: You can sell your products everyday of the year and if the company has a web sales system you are potentially earning money 24 hours a day 7 days a week all 365 days a year. And don’t forget, friends, family and anyone with internet access can make a purchase even if they live half a world away. If you read the advantages above you can see that you won’t mind making that money every month at all. In fact being in charge of fundraising will be a board position people will want to do.

Winner: Cause Marketing

If I add it up, it looks like Cause Marketing has won all 6 of the head to head comparisons.

It is a win-win-win situation. You win as a non-profit organization because you raise the funds you need and cut out many of the hassles in doing it. Your parents and supporters win because they are not bothered with buying and selling unwanted products but are actually able to support the causes they believe in just by doing what they have always done – being consumers. And it’s a win for the companies who are supporting the cause and providing the product and support. They get more customers and they get to be the good guy (for once). Everyone (even big companies) needs to make money, but isn’t it nice to do good for the community while doing well financially?

Cause Marketing is a much better approach to fundraising for all non-profit organizations. In my experience as a parent, teacher, coach and board member I have seen fundraising issues from all sides. When I saw the cause marketing idea I knew I had finally seen something that made sense. If you work with a non-profit organization I encourage you to look into this new way of supporting them.

Finally a Fundraising Plan that makes sense!

When you are ready to start your Cause Marketing Campaign contact me so I can answer all your questions and help you get started.












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