Cause marketing via social networking

In my last posting I discussed how the royalties from our Facebook Anthology are going to go toward a charitable donation.  We leveraged our Facebook Fan base to submit the content for the anthology and also determine the charity itself.  This is an example of how social networking can play a dominant role in cause marketing.   We published a book, we grew our fan base, new authors got published for free, and a charity will receive the royalties. That’s the definition of win-win-win.

But how can you use social media in a cause marketing endeavor if you don’t publish books? Well, there are many examples across the Internet, and I can provide an example of what we’re doing at Outskirts Press.  It’s still “in progress” (much like our Facebook Anthology is/was), but I guess that’s one of the “perks” of reading my blog: getting a sneak peek on behind-the scenes efforts while they’re still underway.

My wife Jeanine, who is the Chief Operating Officer at Outskirts Press,  is competing in an upcoming Danskin Triathlon.  Danskin accepts pledges for athletes, the proceeds for which are split between TeamSurvivor and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Here are details about the Pledge Program:

As the triathlon gets closer, and as Jeanine needs more motivation to get through her training schedule, we will post the pledge information across our various networks in the hopes that some members of our growing, and passionate, social community will want to socially participate in the fight against breast cancer.  To “associate” your pledge with a specific athlete during the online pledge, please enter the name of the athlete exactly: Jeanine Sampson

Here’s to helping a great cause!

The difference between “cause marketing” and “philanthropy”

Or, I guess I should really call this posting “The little gray area between cause marketing and philanthropy.”   

Cause marketing, basically, refers to a mutually beneficial relationship between a for-profit business and a non-profit organization.  The term more broadly encompasses any marketing endeavors involving charitable causes.  Philanthropy, on the other hand, simply involves a corporate donation to a non-profit charitable organization (usually tax deductible).

I mention this because in my mind Outskirts Press has always been a philanthropic organization that is also involved in cause marketing.  I’m not sure I agree that the two terms are mutually exclusive, or perhaps, if they are, that simply demonstrates a lack of effort by the P.R. department of the philanthropic organization.  

For example, you can donate thousands of dollars in books to the Children’s hospital — as Outskirts Press has done in the past through its involvement with the Children’s Literacy and Education Foundation — and that can be both a  philanthropic act (a pure corporate donation), and can also fall within the definition of “cause marketing” once you mention the donation on a blog or among your social networks, since ostensibly, your company is marketing the good will among your clients or customers that results from charitable donations. 

In our case we would typically write and distribute a press release about the donation.  And we would take (and subsequently circulate across our social networks) a photograph of the red wheelbarrow full of books in front of the Children’s Hospital logo. 

You see, philanthropy AND cause marketing. I have other examples I’ll discuss next, including our donations to the Colorado Humanities, and our upcoming Facebook Anthology – the royalties for which go to a charitable organization.

Outskirts Press, Colorado Humanities, and TIE

I’ve been trying to avoid blogging about the “day-to-day” details because, frankly, that’s not very interesting. Strategic topics are great to discuss here, but when I find myself composing a blog about the minutiae of running a company, I usually end up erasing it. Why? Because the minutiae here is probably the same as the minutiae everywhere else.   Once companies reach a certain size, there’s a certain similarity to what is involved, and while the “big picture” might be different, many of the steps are often the same. 

But last week had a few exceptions. I met with the nice folks at Colorado Humanities to discuss what they were going to do with the donation Outskirts Press made to their non-profit organization last year.  We are sponsoring their Colorado Book Awards and Student Literary Awards and also discussed some other potential collaborations.

Last Thursday evening I also attended a TIE Association meeting. TIE stands for The Internet Entrepreneur and Thursday’s speaker was Steve Knopper, who was discussing his book, Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age.

I don’t think I’m saying anything surprising when I say it has some similarities with what is happening now with the traditional publishing industry…