With 2015 upon us, there are innumerable ‘top from 2014’ posts (guilty as charged…) and Joe Waters from Selfish Giving had a good one called 10 Best Cause Marketing Promotions of 2014. In it covers 10 of the best cause marketing promotions (in the US), some key results and why he chose it. In looking through some of the promotions from Uber, Kmart, Facebook and others 3 key thoughts jumped out. So here are…

3 Thoughts From The Best Cause Marketing in 2014

1. Experience & Integration

Uber’s #5MillionMeals let riders donate $5 within the app. Kmart raised money for St. Jude’s by taking donations at the till. And LUSH gave proceeds to charity from the sale of their charity pot lotion. The actions that the donor takes is one they are very familiar with for that company. Transacting through an app with Uber, a financial transaction while checking out with Kmart or purchasing a pot of lotion with LUSH. Not only are they asking their customers to do something they are familiar with but an act that customers are familiar to doing with them. This helps build some trust with the customer as they give or take an action.

It’s also helps provide a good experience. Because Uber, Kmart and LUSH are adding a charitable component on to something they already do the systems don’t need to be drastically reconfigured or an old dog doesn’t have to learn a new trick.

As you look to work with companies and cause marketing in 2015, try to find areas where the company already facilitates a transaction and see how you can integrate your charity and cause into that experience. Don’t try to find something too new or too different.

2. Relevance & Timing

Facebook stepped up to try to fight the Ebola crisis. Peyback Foundation’s ‘Omaha’ hopped on to an idea someone else had. And Cumberland Farms in Massachusetts was one of the first to officially jump on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge wave and ride it. Many causes and cause marketing attempts can flounder because they simply aren’t relevant.

Now you can’t create an Ice Bucket Challenge (please don’t try…) or have Peyton Manning shout out your city or charity’s name during games but what are some natural events or times where your cause and message may be more relevant to a company’s customers? How quickly can you react to something to help support companies (and people) who want to do something to help?

Plan your campaigns as best you can and try to find some relevance and resonance but just as important is to plan for the unplanned. Take an hour with your team and ask yourselves what you’d do if the Ice Bucket Challenged happened this year. Or if a local company wants to take donations for you in a week.

3. Choice & Options

LUSH selected three charities and the pot the customer bought would determine which of those three charities received the funds. Facebook chose 6 charities fighting Ebloa that users/donors could choose to support. And Imbibe’s Negroni Week let each participating bar choose a charity of their choice for the campaign. There’s some benefit in limiting choice and options at times (do this to benefit this one charity) but providing some choice can increase the engagement and response (as well as the good feeling the customer gets).

It’s not like LUSH let customer’s choose from 100 charities. Or Facebook picked 600 causes to choose from. And the bar would pick a charity they cared about to communicate to their customer’s – the customer still didn’t have tons of choice. When we have choice we feel more empowered. Too much choice and we drown. Too little choice and the act can be less meaningful.

As you look for partners and opportunities in 2015, don’t think you have to be the one and only charity for a company or for a campaign. Being one of 3 or one of 6 can be great. And if you think you’re too small to benefit think again. LUSH supports many organizations with revenues under $500,000 and local bars will often choose small, local charities. Companies want a great story to tell and one that connects with their customer’s and that doesn’t always mean that bigger is better.

I hope there’s something in there for you as you think about cause marketing and 2015. If not, I blame the Holiday break and will do better in the future. Here are the slides from Selfish Giving and you can read the full post here.