Cause Marketing is a Win-Win Strategy

CUs earn awareness and loyalty while raising money for charitable causes.

September 17, 2013
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Credit unions’ support for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals extends well beyond Miracle Jeans Day, which occurs on Sept. 18 and is sponsored by Credit Unions for Kids.

With their loyal membership and a strong history of community service, credit unions can be excellent cause marketers for CMN Hospitals and other worthy organizations throughout the year.

Cause marketing, which links a company or brand to a relevant social cause, is a win-win proposition, says Felicity Guerin, Credit Unions for Kids development manager for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. Your members want your credit union to be socially responsible, and to take pride in contributing to these campaigns.

Prospective members take notice as well, she says.

Cause and Effect

Consider these examples of credit unions raising money for local CMN Hospitals while reinforcing their “people helping people” philosophy:

Robins Federal Credit Union donated $1 for every “like” the $1.7 billion asset credit union in Warner Robins, Ga., received on its Facebook page in July. Thanks to a big social media push that included Facebook advertisements, the campaign topped $5,000.

Cabrillo Credit Union took to Twitter, issuing consistent cause marketing messages for a fund drive in May for Rady Children’s Hospital, its local CMN Hospital. The $196 million asset credit union in San Diego, Calif., urged members to get involved, explained the importance of the hospital, gave updates on donation levels, and thanked members for their support. The effort generated more than $25,000.

Patelco Credit Union brought its CU4Kids Holiday Icon Campaign to life in Pleasanton, Calif., with in-branch snowmen displays. The $3.9 billion asset credit union raised $30,000 from its members, mostly through $1 donations.

According to a 2013 Cone Communications study, 91% of consumers are likely to switch brands to a competitor similar in price and quality that supports a cause, while 78% would donate to a cause supported by a company they trust.

Additionally, 31% of global consumers believe businesses should change the way they operate to align with greater social and environmental needs. Just 6% believe businesses exist to make money for shareholders and aren’t responsible for supporting social or environmental issues.

As nonprofit, community focused financial institutions, credit unions aren’t supporting charities to boost their bottom line, but because it’s the right thing to do.

So, often it doesn’t seem necessary to tell members about your good deeds, Guerin notes.

But in today’s changing landscape, spreading the word about community engagement might not just be good for business but necessary.

The value of information

Credit unions have and know their value proposition. They’ve already established relationships with charities, projects, and causes in their communities.

But many credit unions don’t effectively communicate the good they do, Guerin says. In essence, credit unions have mastered the “cause” part of the equation but need to focus on the “marketing” aspect.

Consumers have never placed more emphasis on a company’s commitment to “doing good,” according to a recent Penn Schoen Berland Corporate Social Responsibility Branding Survey.

Social responsibility remains important to consumers despite the recession and is a differentiator for products and brands. Some consumers will even pay more for products with added social benefits, according to the Cone Communications survey.

In the social media age, consumers believe they have a right to be informed about all aspects of the companies they support, including their charitable works.

Supporting a respected cause establishes you as a relevant member of a community. And studies show consumers are more likely to pay attention to all your communications when they know you have a deep commitment to a cause.

Where to begin?

Consider these five tips as you design a cause marketing effort, Guerin says:

1. Pinpoint the community initiatives your credit union does well, and highlight those good deeds in internal and external communication efforts.

2. Develop a clear impact statement as part of your cause marketing strategy. Employees and members want to know exactly what their money will fund and how they’re helping the community. Make sure your messaging is clear, concise, heartfelt, and easily repeatable.

3. Publicize your efforts on the channels you control, such as your website and social media. Seek media coverage and consider advertising.

4. Make word-of mouth efforts a key part of your cause marketing strategy. Social media and traditional media outlets matter, but most consumers want to hear about causes directly.

5. Engage your employees and members in the cause; help them feel good about themselves, and give them a story to tell their friends.

Visit for information on turnkey cause marketing materials that support CMN Hospitals, and share your fund-raising highlights and community impact at and

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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