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The three things companies look for in a charitable partner

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Strategy’s PROMO! Awards were recently announced, recognizing the best in brand activation and strategy. Charities that creatively portrayed their missions fared extremely well and, while none of the winners were paired with a corporate partner for these particular initiatives, they each achieved the type of activation corporate brands look for in potential charitable partners.

Claiming four Gold awards as well as the Best in Show, SickKids’ “VS.” depicted children and their physicians as superheroes fighting serious illness in a moving video and integrated campaign to attract a new donor demographic.

Canadian Down Syndrome Society earned three Gold awards for their smart Google strategy to use AdWords to intercept frequently asked questions by expecting parents and redirect them to a series of videos answered by children with Down Syndrome, racking up an impressive 893% increase in referral traffic to the organization’s site and 100% increase in traffic to the site.

Drug Free Kids took home a Gold award and two Silvers for “The Call That Comes After”, an interactive effort that enabled parents to send their child a video about driving under the influence of marijuana while bringing them into the story by sending them actual text messages that matched the text messages the teens in the video received. Site traffic increased by 250% during the first month of the campaign and the charity counts 7,389 conversations enabled through the effort.

These winners demonstrate three characteristics brands often look for in charitable partners:

A Bold Brand: Companies want to align with charities with a strong, recognizable brand in order to positively reflect on their own corporate brands. Each of the above charities prove they can stand on their own with a powerful message that challenges existing perceptions and expectations. Often companies partner with charities to create a new conversation with their consumers or employees; they more out-of-the-box ideas charities can bring to the table, the better.

Clarity: If it takes more than a brief sentence, image or phrase to convey the mission of a charity, companies may not ask for a second meeting. Consumers are bombarded each and every day with millions of advertising messages, and anything less than concise, crisp messaging is likely to be ignored. Packaging together a brand and a charity takes even more careful finesse to convey a clear brand/cause alignment so it’s doubly important that your message be succinct. It’s clear from each of the above efforts what the mission of the organization is, who’s impacted and what’s at stake.

Demonstrable Impact: Gone are the days where partnering with a cause was a novelty for a company. Cause-focused efforts surround consumers today and they have grown savvy when it comes to demanding authenticity and a need to see genuine impact. Each of the above efforts demonstrate very visually through use of video and smart activations who is being impacted by each of these efforts and messaging to support why it’s critical and relevant today.

Want to learn more about what companies look for when partnering with charities? Then join us October 11th at the Companies & Causes Canada conference.

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