How to Turn a Cause into a Brand

This month, millions of iPhone users will visit the App Store to see “RED” versions of all their favorite apps. What does this mean? You probably already know. Every year, proceeds from the purchase of “RED” apps or merchandise goes to The Global Fund where it is used to fight the spread of AIDS in Africa. So, not only are you buying enough gems to dominate your favorite passive mobile game, you’re also saving people’s lives. And that’s powerful motivation to make a frivolous purchase.

Apple knows that you’re a do-gooder, and they have a brilliant way of selling you the ability to do a little good while you have your morning coffee. Why not just ask you for a direct donation? Because you would likely overlook this request without a second thought. Apple knows that “goodness” works best as an add-on product. At this point your inner idealist is probably either scheduling a protest or stroking its chin in a calculated way.

Though not every cause is fortunate enough to have a marketing monolith like Apple in their corner, there are grassroots ways to employ these same strategies to raise funds for your organization. The idea boils down to packaging a good deed with another product, making certain that both are clearly visible. Trying to save Panda bears? Sell branded stuffed animals and use the proceeds. Raising funds to start a community farmers market? Pop a logo on a reusable grocery bag.

In each case, the donor and the organization leaves with something in hand, and the donor has the added bonus of having done a good deed. The deed itself is not enough to complete the purchase, but as an add-on product, you just can’t pass it up. As you attempt to recruit donors throughout the holiday season, keep this in mind. A direct ask is not always the best way to get a donation. Bundle!

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