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Cause Marketing: How to Give Back with Your Promo Campaigns

Did you know that 25% of shoppers have stopped buying from self-interested brands?

You’re in business to make a living, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all about the money. Part of being a transparent, authentic brand is about looking beyond the bottom line and giving back.

Sure, a corporate mission is a significant first step, but you need to integrate meaningful causes into every facet of your business—including your promotional products.

Learn how cause marketing works with promo campaigns and try our five tips to give back with your promo campaigns. 

planet over profit environment sign

What is cause marketing, and why does it matter?

Cause marketing is technically a type of marketing in which a for-profit helps a not-for-profit, but it’s really a holistic approach to how you do business. With cause marketing, you pair your business initiatives with give-back campaigns that make the world a better place. 

Cause marketing is a double whammy because it does good in the world while impressing your customers. It’s the responsible thing to do, and customers will respect you for it. 

Doing good is primarily the goal, but cause marketing can have a tangible effect on your bottom line in the form of: 

  • Deeper customer relationships: 83% of consumers say it’s important to buy from brands that share their values. If you can tap into your target audience’s moral code, you can create more opportunities to connect over a shared sense of purpose.
  • Spreading the word: When a customer realizes a brand gives back to a cause they care about, they’re going to tell their social circle about it, too. Since 86% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from companies with a purpose, cause marketing lifts your brand affinity.
  • Boosting profits: Yes, really. 64% of Gen Z shoppers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly brands. It’s no wonder why 89% of executives say cause marketing gives them a competitive advantage. 

How to give back with promo campaigns

Consumer cynicism is at an all-time high, which means you have to fight extra hard to earn your audience’s trust. They (rightfully) demand a lot from you, so show them that their trust is in the right place. 

Follow these five recommendations to execute a flawless promo product campaign that gives back. 

1. Sustainability 

77% of consumers prefer to shop with environmentally responsible brands. With sustainable promotional products, you’ll not only promote your business with creative freebies but also send social signals that tell consumers that you care. 

Consumers like knowing that the brands they buy from are creating a brighter future. Knowing that a product was made sustainably gives shoppers an instant wow factor that helps them see you in a positive light. 

But how do you order sustainable promotional products? First things first, you can order sustainable products from brands like: 

In terms of which products you order, it’s a good idea to go with environmentally viable options like: 

  • Recycled goods: Let’s say you want to give your staff journals, search for a cork journal made from 100% recycled paper. Some manufacturers will even allow you to recycle ocean plastic and convert it into branded flip-flops! 
  • Upcycling: Are there hundreds of promotional products gathering dust in your HQ somewhere? Instead of throwing them away or languishing in storage, you can upcycle them. Either repurpose them into a new campaign, give them away as office awards or contact a start-up called SwagCycle, that will put your old branded merchandise to good use. 
  • Durable goods: If you choose single-use goods or cheap products that break after a few uses, that’s not sustainable. If you’re investing in high-quality goods that last a long time, that’s better for the planet, and your promotional products will have more staying power, too. This might mean paying more for higher quality, but it’s more effective and eco-friendly in the long run. 

2. Give-back initiatives

Did you know that you can make the world a better place just by purchasing products from brands that do good? 

TOMS is an excellent example of this. For every pair of shoes they sell, they give a pair away to a person in need. You can make changes on the supplier level for your promotional products, too. 

For example, 1% for the Planet's approved vendors give back a minimum of 1% of their profits to environmental causes. When you buy from brands that give back a portion of their proceeds, it’s an easy way to give back yourself. 

3. Incentivize donations

71% of Millennials would pay more for products if they knew some of the proceeds went to charity. That’s why it’s a great idea to co-brand with a charitable partner!

Co-branding with a nonprofit grows your audience, increases awareness, and encourages donations to a great cause. If you want to partner up with a charity, use your promotional products to incentivize donations. 

For example, NPR gives you a free tote bag when you donate $25. If you donate $100 or more, you get even more goodies. 

To get the most traction out of this, partner with a charity complementary to your business. For example, if you’re a vegan beauty brand, you might partner with the ASPCA for a donation drive. 

This is a great way to get really creative with your promotional products, too. Donating will be a no-brainer when you co-brand your branded merchandise with exciting designs.

Ben & Jerry's EmpowerMint ice cream

4. Create a movement

66% of consumers believe that brands should take a stance on social issues. While you’re free to join movements that are meaningful to you, sometimes bandwagoning isn’t the most creative option. 

If you really believe in a cause, why not make your own movement? This shows your consumers that cause marketing isn’t just an afterthought for promotional purposes but that you take your mission seriously.

Brands like Ben & Jerry’s are famous for this. They make tasty ice cream and promote change through products like “Empower Mint” flavor. 

You can use your promotional products to start a revolution. 

For example, let’s say you’re a beauty brand that wants to tackle the gender pay gap. You could order see-through piggy banks with your logo and the hashtag #ShowMeYourSalary to encourage salary transparency.

5. Plan charitable events

Why not take your give-back campaign on the road? This is a great way to boost visibility for your cause and collect more donations for charity—and it’s also the perfect way to score a few media features along the way. 

Whether you host a local event or take it on a roadshow to major cities around the country, charitable events are the perfect way to make a change. 

Make this an event worth attending with features like: 

  • Gifts themed for the event
  • Expert speeches
  • Dance parties
  • Games and challenges

The goal should be to create an experience centered around your initiative. Your promotional products should serve as a gift that they can keep to remember the fun event and your important cause. 

volunteer group

Do good while growing your brand

Cause marketing allows you to connect with your audience on something much bigger than your products. As a business, you have influence over the world: use it to make a difference.

These cause marketing tips will get you far, but remember that this is just one piece of the puzzle. You need to make giving back a part of every facet of your business, so it’s not a marketing fad but a commitment that you take seriously. 

Now is the time to focus on Branding Products with Purpose™. Get in touch with your Boundless Brand Consultant for more ideas on how your company can give back.

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