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Sick of Pinkwashing? Here's a Pink Promotion that Stays True to its Hue

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October is here and millions will be raised this month with cause marketing for breast cancer organizations. Two of the best known are Komen for the Cure and Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

These large organizations with their national partnerships will raise the lion's share with their "pink" products and promotions, but they won't be the only ones raise money with cause marketing. Many small organizations are educating themselves and launching their own promotions.

Boston's own The Ellie Fund is a perfect example. Its a nonprofit that's working to make the fight against breast cancer easier. Need a ride to a doctor's appointment? They'll help you out. Too wiped from chemo to clean your house? They'll bring someone in to clean it for you. These are just a couple examples. EF helps hundreds of women and their family members each year with important, necessary things that it's easy to forget are hard for someone who's sick.

With just a few staff members, including Executive Director Julie Nations (a Six Figure Cause Marketing grad!), The Ellie Fund's annual budget is in the hundreds of thousands, not millions.

Last year, Julie launched an online cause marketing program that raised The Ellie Fund $5,000.

"We were happy with the results, considering it was the first year," Julie said. "But we were determined to do better in 2011."

Instead of an online point-of-sale program, Julie opted for a purchase triggered program with retailers: the Do Good campaign.

Julie negotiated with dozens of businesses. She sat down with each of them and figured out the best way they could give back. For Dependable Cleaners this meant offering customers 20% off the dry cleaning of pink products with 5% of the cost going to EF. For JennyClip Pant Clips it was a special pink ribbon clip with 10% going to EF. You can check out what others did here.

Julie applied what she learned in 6FCM: start with the companies assets - what they are willing to give and do to help your cause. Julie did this with 40 companies! It's a lot of work, and required several months of calls and meetings, but the payoff will happen this month.

Julie asked every company to commit to a minimum of $1,000. A big challenge Julie had last year were partners that didn't follow through and push the program. This year, to make sure every partner was committed she asked for a minimum $1,000 donation. This flies in the face of my free is for me doctrine for point-of-sale, but I've always preached that one of the great things about purchase triggered donations is that you can usually negotiate an upfront gift or guarantee. Larger organizations do this all the time, with hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars guaranteed before any pink product is sold.

Julie stuck with point-of-sale when it served her purposes. You know I love point-of-sale. So does Julie. And when she closed a partnership pact with Hannaford Supermarkets it showed. Hannaford agreed to do coin canisters in 26 local stores. But Julie didn't stop there. She got a guarantee of $10,000. Nice work, Julie.

I've known the Ellie Fund and Julie Nations for some time. They are a small nonprofit that is committed to cause marketing, which hasn't always been easy. A couple of years ago, they lost a large cause marketing partner that was funding nearly a fourth of their operating budget. Partners come and partners go. Like Julie, I've swallowed that bitter pill.

But Julie has stuck with it, and this year she's poised for a big success. Like the hope Julie brings to women with breast cancer, her faith in cause marketing and perseverance to make it work isn't in vain.

Julie learned the foundations of successful cause marketing in the Six Figure Cause Marketing training program. The next session begins tomorrow!