Cause Marketing: 10 Effective (& Profitable!) Examples

Cause marketing is a great way for nonprofits and corporations to join together for a similar cause, and it is becoming a key way for corporations to express their philanthropic side.

Cause marketing looks something like this:

Corporations partner with nonprofit organizations to help them raise money and awareness. In return, this publicly philanthropic action generates more business for the company.

This is a type of corporate philanthropy.

What is corporate philanthropy?

Corporate philanthropy encompasses the actions a business takes to benefit the world around them. Along with cause marketing, matching gift programs are a popular arm of this generosity.

Through matching gift programs, a company pledges to match gifts made by their employees to nonprofit organizations, effectively doubling the impact of the original donation.

The easiest way for nonprofits to capitalize on matching gift programs is through matching gift tools, such as a searchable, embeddable database or (for larger nonprofits) a fully-automated matching gift tool. If you’re interested in either tool, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial on Double the Donation.

With that, let’s dive into corporate philanthropy via cause marketing through these 10 examples of successful partnerships between nonprofits and businesses.

CampaignCampaign TypeRanking
Red Kettle CampaignPoint of Sale#1
Red Nose DayPortion of Purchase#2
Fundraiser for the Planet100% of Sales#3
Faces of DiabetesPoint of Sale#4
Buy a Pair, Give a PairBuy One Give One#5
PurposeFULLPoint of Sale#6
Soar With ReadingProud Supporter#7
Arctic HomeMatching Gifts#8
Vodka for Dog PeoplePortion of Purchase#9
Miracle BalloonPoint of Sale#10

Learn what made these programs so successful and how you can implement their techniques into your nonprofit’s cause marketing.

1. Red Kettle Campaign

Who are the partners?

The Salvation Army Southern Territory partnered with DipJar and local retailers to improve the traditional Red Kettle cause marketing campaign.

Campaign Overview

You’re probably familiar with The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign which often happens during the holidays. Typically, these red kettles or buckets are placed outside department stores and other shops to receive donations.

While this tried-and-true cause marketing strategy has been successful for many years, The Salvation Army realized they were missing out on a large pool of potential donors that don’t carry cash.

To improve their Red Kettle campaign, they partnered with the giving kiosk company DipJar so that they could start accepting donations via credit cards. 

The branded DipJars were placed beside registers at local coffee shops and other retail partners. With these, The Salvation Army was able to gather donations from all interested donors, cash-carrying or not.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

This campaign makes our top spot because The Salvation Army saw a gap in their fundraising potential, and effectively provided donors with a quick and easy solution.

2. Red Nose Day

Who are the partners?

This campaign was a collaboration between Red Nose Day and Walgreens.

Campaign Overview

This iconic cause marketing campaign originated in the United Kingdom and is now taking the United States by storm.

Last year the campaign raised $18 million through the sale of over 12 million “red noses” at Walgreens stores. 

The six-week campaign starts with Walgreens customers purchasing red noses and wearing them for group pictures and to other Red Nose Day fundraising events to spread awareness.

The proceeds from the red nose sales, and additional fundraising events orchestrated by companies and individuals during the campaign, go toward helping lift children out of poverty in the United States.

The campaign is held yearly and experiences great success.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

The Red Nose Day cause marketing campaign stands out because of its fun and playful nature. Plus, it’s so shareable! Donors want to buy a red nose so that they can take pictures and share them with the #rednoseday.

3. Fundraiser for the Planet

Who are the partners?

Patagonia organized this cause marketing campaign with various grassroots environmental organizations.

Campaign Overview

For Black Friday, Patagonia announced that they would give 100% of the day’s sales to support grassroots organizations working to protect our air, water, and soil.

To help support the planet, customers just needed to make a purchase at one of Patagonia’s many stores on Black Friday.  With the help of many loyal customers and first-time shoppers, they were able to raise $10 million in sales.

While Patagonia never stated which organizations would receive the funds, the money went to help support many underfunded and off-the-radar nonprofits. The $10 million contributions go a long way to supporting our planet.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

Donating to the cause took no additional effort—donors just had to shop at Patagonia on Black Friday to show their support. Since all the money spent was going toward a good cause, it’s likely that many people purchased more than normal just to support the environmental organizations.

4. Face of Diabetes

Who are the partners?

The Faces of Diabetes organization partnered with several local businesses, and DipJar, to run a point of sale cause marketing campaign.

Campaign Overview

Through a partnership with local businesses in the Alabama area, the Faces of Diabetes organization collected donations and raised awareness about living with diabetes.

As part of their campaign, Faces of Diabetes wanted a way to accept donations from supporters that didn’t have cash on hand. They implemented the DipJar giving kiosk in a couple of their retail partners’ stores.

The retail partners enjoyed that they could accept credit card donations without the hassle of integrating the system into their current payment system. 

The campaign was so successful that they received over 130 donations in just four days. To learn more about implementing a point of sale marketing campaign like the Face of Diabetes, check out this helpful DipJar resource.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

This campaign stood out because of the successful collaboration between Faces of Diabetes and their retail partners. Since the process was easy to implement, the organization’s retail partners were excited to ask patrons to contribute.

5. Buy a Pair, Give a Pair

Who are the parnters?

Warby Parker partners with various healthcare and medical-related organizations including VisionSpring.

Campaign Overview

Warby Parker uses the buy-one-give-one model to promote their philanthropic side.

The model is very simple: for every pair of glasses they sell, they’ll donate to their nonprofit partners to cover the cost of sourcing a pair of glasses. 

In addition to the donation, their nonprofit partners train men and women in developing countries on how to give basic eye exams and sell glasses at affordable prices, thus helping make eye care more readily available.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

The Buy a Pair, Give a Pair campaign is so successful because of its marketing strategy and the ability to capture donors’ attention to raise awareness. The Warby Parker website explains their cause marketing strategy and tells the stories of beneficiaries.

6. PurposeFULL

Who are the partners?

The PurposeFULL cause marketing campaign is a collaboration between Arby’s and Share Our Strength.

Campaign Overview

So far, Arby’s has raised over $15 million for the organization Share Our Strength. The money goes to help feed children in America.

PurposeFULL is a point of sale campaign, meaning that Arby’s asks for donations during the sale of an item usually through a screen prompt, sign, or a direct ask from the cashier. 

This cause marketing campaign is direct, asking donors for a specific donation. The PurposeFULL campaign focuses on $1 donations that can provide food for 10 meals.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

Because the PurposeFULL campaign lets donors know how much just $1 can contribute, supporters are able to focus more on the support rather than their monetary donations, which is why we believe this campaign was so successful.

7. Soar With Reading

Who are the partners?

The Soar With Reading campaign is a partnership between JetBlue and the nonprofit organization FirstBook.

Campaign Overview

The Soar With Reading program was designed to inspire and encourage children’s imaginations.

JetBlue donates money to FirstBook to help provide books to children in low-income neighborhoods.

Some of these books have been distributed via free book vending machines. Additionally, the Soar With Reading program helps provide educators and students with diverse books to promote learning.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

The Soar With Reading campaign is successful because the whole company is involved in supporting JetBlue’s partner nonprofit. JetBlue employees can volunteer with the Soar With Reading program and make a difference in children’s lives, or even donate toward the cause themselves.

8. Arctic Home

Who are the partners?

The Arctic Home Cause Marketing Campaign was created by Coca-Cola and World Wildlife Fund.

Campaign Overview

Coca-Cola has used polar bears as their unofficial mascot for years, so it makes sense that they would partner with World Wildlife Fund to support the conservation of the polar bear and its habitat.

The Arctic Home campaign is about building awareness and raising funds through merchandise and online fundraising.

Coca-Cola introduced Arctic Home coke cans. These cans raise awareness with a package code that people could use to make a $1 donation. Coca-Cola matched every donation made through these package codes.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

By matching the $1 donations of customers who purchased an Arctic Home can, Coco-Cola motivated donors to give to the World Wildlife Fund.

9. Vodka for Dog People

Who are the partners?

Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Emancipet partnered together to create the Vodka for Dog People cause marketing campaign.

Campaign Overview

Tito’s Handmade Vodka started their partnership with Emancipet to help care for dogs. To help raise money and awareness for the nonprofit, Tito’s created a cause-related website called Vodka for Dog People.

On the website, supporters can purchase pet and human products, such as leashes, toys, and t-shirts with the Titos logo.

It’s the perfect pairing of product fundraising and cause marketing.

The product fundraising process is fairly simple. Pick a product, create a design, order the product, and sell, sell, sell. The added benefit of fundraising through the sale of branded items means that after someone makes their purchase, they’re promoting the branded nonprofit any time they use the product.

For the Tito’s product fundraising campaign, all the proceeds from the website go to Emancipet. In addition to the website, Tito’s works with bars and liquor stores to host yappy hour fundraisers for Emancipet.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

The Vodka for Dogs campaign uses both online and local fundraising efforts to raise money and awareness for pet care.

10. Miracle Balloon

Who are the partners?

The Miracle Balloon campaign is a collaboration between Walmart and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Campaign Overview

The Miracle Balloon campaign has been an ongoing partnership between Walmart (and Sam’s Club) and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for years.

For six weeks of every year, Walmart employees ask for donations from customers at checkout. 

If donors contribute a dollar or more, they can place their names on a paper Miracle Balloon and place it on the honor wall.

Why Their Campaign Made the List

This cause marketing campaign is effective because customers can see how many donors have already supported the cause, which may motivate them to participate as well.

Additionally, while most Walmart and Sam’s Club locations participate, the campaign focuses on locations near a Children’s Miracle Hospital. That way, the organization can encourage grateful patients or those with a loved one who received care at one of the hospitals to donate.

As you can see from the examples above, cause marketing is an effective way to raise money and awareness for your cause. Both nonprofits and for-profit businesses receive benefits from the partnership.

For more information on fundraising ideas for your nonprofit, check out the following additional resources:

  • Full List of Fundraising Ideas. Didn’t find what you were looking for? Check out our complete list of fundraising ideas. You’re bound to find the perfect fundraiser for your organization.
  • Top Companies for Donation Requests. If you’re looking for corporations to partner with for a cause marketing campaign or just for donations, check out this list of over 30 companies that have philanthropic programs.
  • Cause Marketing – The Six Top Fundraisers. While the list above highlights some of the best cause marketing campaigns there are, this infographic will walk you through exactly what types of cause marketing campaigns will be the most successful for your organization from checkout programs to cause products and more.
  • Expert Guide to Matching Gifts. Many of the cause marketing programs included matching gift components. Matching gifts are a great way to partner with businesses and double your funds! Learn more with this ultimate guide.