For many businesses and NGOs seeking to do well by doing good, 2013 was the year in which collaboration reached new heights. In addition to typical pairings of corporations and nonprofits, we saw meaningful alliances take many shapes — even between companies that otherwise view one another as major competitors.
To get a feel for this surprising pattern of partnership, take a look at these noteworthy 2013 campaigns:
Coopetition – Industry Alliances on the Rise
AT&T started It Can Wait in 2009 to address the epidemic of texting while driving. Emboldened by the positive momentum from the campaign, AT&T decided to significantly expand the effort in 2013. When competitor Verizon unexpectedly asked to take part, an unlikely corporate alliance was formed. The partnership then further expanded to include T-Mobile and Sprint. What resulted was a collaboration in which each of the four major carriers allocated marketing dollars to ‘It Can Wait’. The campaign is coordinated by AT&T with equal branding attribution for each partner.
Clear Channel is tackling the issue of unemployment among military veterans via their IHeartRadio’s Show Your Stripes initiative. The media giant is spending more than$75 million in radio, digital and out-of-home resources to highlight the skills brought back by returning servicemen and women and their value to employers in the workplace. Veterans, employers and supporters are encouraged to visit a centralized online resource portal designed in partnership with Monster Worldwide and Military.com. Clear Channel has recruited a coalition of American businesses identified as being military-friendly and which have already experienced success in hiring veterans includes American Airlines, Capital One, The Coca-Cola Company, Comcast and NBCUniversal, Facebook, FedEx, General Electric, General Mills, The Home Depot, jcpenney, JetBlue, Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens and Wells Fargo, to name a few.
#GivingTuesday started in 2012 as a giving-focused day after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2013, over 10,000 nonprofits jumped on board, a huge increase from the 2500 involved in 2012. This year saw more businesses get involved and experiment with ways to make their participation economically sustainable. Launched on Giving Tuesday and running through year-end, PayPal’s Stamp Out Checks campaign encourages donors to give via PayPal instead of writing a paper check. In return, PayPal is adding $5.52 – the cost of a year’s worth stamps – to every donation of $25 or more. This year, the company reported a 99.9% increase in U.S. donations on GivingTuesday compared to 2012.
Cause-Branded Products, Lines and Shopping Portals Evolve
For-profit FEED USA and Target teamed up to offer Target shoppers a large, limited-time collection ranging from apparel to home goods to sporting goods. Each product prominently displayed the number of meals donated to children and families through Feeding America as a result of the purchase.
Warby Parker co-founder Jeff Raider is taking lessons learned from the Warby model and has launched a new cause-based startup called Harry’s which sells fashionably designed razor handles and replacement blades at prices less expensive than existing dominant brands. The company donates one percent of sales and one percent of volunteer time to nonprofit partners. If Harry’s follows in the footsteps of Warby Parker, this cause business may start a true legacy line.
‘Buy One Give One’ pioneer TOMS launched a new online store called TOMS Marketplace that features a curated collection of 200 socially conscious products from 30 different companies. Browsable by cause category, brand or geographic area of impact, products include everything from accessories, apparel and bags to home goods, jewelry, sports equipment and technology. This model allows TOMS the potential to catapult their online footprint, diversify their product offering while helping generate commerce for smaller, start-up cause brands.
Cause-related marketing efforts have come a long way since their introduction to the marketplace over 30 years ago. They’ve raised billions for good causes and generated impressive business benefits as well but relatively few companies have mastered the art and science behind combining company and cause (Peruse past winners of Cause Marketing Halo Awards to get a feeling for the diversity of best in class efforts over the last decade).
There are still those who look askance at companies benefitting from cause-related activity. Certainly not every program is worthy of a halo, but it’s heartening to see the great contributions of many long-running campaigns that generate social and financial dividends and the renewed spirit of innovation and collaboration infusing the field. Here’s to more and better efforts to do well by doing good in 2014!