Every time I see someone wearing a pair of TOMS shoes, it puts a smile on my face.
Not because I’m a big shoe person or a particular fan of the TOMS style…
But because TOMS has done such a great job of branding themselves with their cause, seeing a pair of their classic slip-ons is like seeing a good deed in action.
You see, TOMS has a long-running campaign that gives a pair of shoes to kids in need for every pair of shoes bought from their store. It’s called their One-for-One campaign, and since the company’s launch in 2006, they’ve given away millions of shoes to impoverished kids in over 40 countries.
Thanks to their unswerving focus on corporate responsibility, TOMS has expanded their product line beyond shoes — into eyewear, clothing, and coffee — and now has multiple store locations and multiple partnerships with charities around the world. They also now give away much more than shoes.
In short, TOMS Shoes has become a leader in the field of cause marketing. One glance at their website and its heavy focus on social responsibility, and it’s clear how much TOMS (and companies like them) need and use professionals like you with persuasive writing skills.
Today, I want to shine the spotlight on how to write for cause marketing, which can blend writing for profit with charitable actions that contribute to causes you’re passionate about.
Why Cause Marketing Campaigns Lead to Triple Wins
For the most part, when people think about helping causes they care about, their first thought is to donate either money or time.
But consider how it would feel to use your craft — i.e., your writing ability — to bring about more positive change than you could ever give through just money or time?
That’s the thinking behind the unique writing opportunities you’ll find in the world of cause marketing. They link a good cause with some kind of marketing effort.
Cause marketing is the perfect blend of working for a greater good while harnessing the advantages and marketing budgets of large companies. Writing for the world of cause marketing means you can earn a good living while bringing publicity or money to a good cause.
These days, cause marketing campaigns appear throughout modern commerce.
For example, in a type of campaign referred to as “Portion of Purchase,” a business donates part of its proceeds from the sale of a specific product or service. Like Starbucks’ donations to (RED) on World AIDS Day.
Or it might be a BOGO, which is a “Buy One Give One.” That’s where TOMS Shoes leads the field.
There are also “Point of Sale” donations, which take place when you check out at a store with a cashier, and you’re asked verbally for a donation, or you donate via a screen prompt or sign.
Digital campaigns have grown in popularity, as well. Amazon does this, allowing you to direct a portion of your purchases to a charity of your choice, based on a list they put together.
When you write for cause marketing, your role usually starts with the for-profit company that supports or promotes a good cause. You write for their cause campaign, and they pay you — often more than a nonprofit might be able to pay.
In that way, the project becomes a win-win-win: A win for the company, because they get exposure and sell more products, a win for the cause or nonprofit because they gain funding and support, and a win for you as the writer because you’re getting paid to write about a topic you care about.
Your Message Is the Core of this $2 Billion Industry
The cause marketing industry averaged around $120 million in 1990 and skyrocketed to over $2 billion in 2017. That’s because people want to do business with companies that give back, not companies that only chase profits.
As a writer for the world of cause marketing, you’ll do the same type of projects you would for any company, only your writing will bring in donations for the cause instead of just profits. Potential projects including writing email newsletters, sales letters, autoresponders, blog posts, articles, social media posts, web pages, brochures, and more.
In these campaigns, you’ll be the connecting link between the marketing effort and consumer action. Your job will be to write copy that bridges the gap of understanding — so consumers not only see the motivations behind a cause marketing campaign but also know what to do to support it.
That’s because, at the end of the day, it’s the message that really prompts action within any cause campaign. The copy you write can have a profound impact, whether it’s to raise funds, change behavior, rally consumers, share important messages, or motivate employees — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Writing for cause marketing offers opportunities for both new and established writers. If you have existing clients, suggesting a cause campaign is a great way to help them expand their market reach. If you’re new to the writing world, cause marketing gives you an excellent entry strategy into a specific niche with plenty of work available.
This means no matter what niche or size of business you prefer to write for, a cause campaign will offer one or more benefits to your pool of clients.
Great Writing Fees AND Great Feelings
Unlike some work in the nonprofit industry, cause writers typically charge the same going rates as any other copywriter. If you’re writing for larger, more established organizations, expect the same project fees as you would from any other company.
Or you can write for a for-profit industry, then “donate” some of your time to help smaller groups in need — or for any cause dear to your heart.
The best approach for setting fees is to first connect with the for-profit company side of the partnership and ask if they have a budget for writing. If they do, negotiate within their fee structure. If they don’t, refer to AWAI’s Pricing Guide and use it to propose your fees.
Whether you’re brand new to the writing world or you’ve been at it for decades, you can break into this feel-good market…
And if you’ve been running a writing business for years, branching out into altruistic writing could help reinvigorate your passion for certain fields or for writing in general.
From a Simple Email to a World of Opportunity
Most writers agree it’s easy to write about things you feel passionate about. All you need to do is seek out a cause partnership that aligns with your beliefs. Then work to strike up a writing partnership based on the needs of the campaign.
That might mean proposing a landing page for key prospects, or a sales letter that informs and explains the mission of a cause, or a blog post that updates and connects with existing supporters. Start with an email or a simple phone call… there’s no wrong way to do this.
The thing is, the best cause initiative in the world will fail if the right message doesn’t connect with the right prospect. And because of the internet, the need for good copy that promotes worthy causes and resonates with prospects is never-ending.
Most importantly, this is an opportunity that offers all the benefits of the writer’s life. You write for cause campaigns you care about from the comfort of home. You decide which companies you want to work for and set up your daily writing schedule. You command your own fees.
It’s an opportunity that marries passion, pay, and satisfaction.
Writing that’s Good for Your Brain and Your Business
Money and connections aside, the most important message you can take from this is that giving is good for you. Studies show the simple act of giving to others, whether through money or actions, releases feel-good endorphins — also known as the “helper’s high.”
So whether you donate your writing services directly or write for pay for an organization that promotes good works, it’s bound to make you feel happier.
A 2008 Harvard Business School study showed that giving, even in small ways, increases overall happiness. And a 2006 study from the National Institutes of Health found that giving can activate the areas of your brain tied to pleasure, trust, and social connection.
Doing good through your writing is also likely to help you grow your writing business. Research shows it promotes trust and cooperation that can strengthen your ties to others.
It’s also been found to create positive social interactions — often leading to partnerships, projects, and other joint efforts between you and those you help and who appreciate your willingness to help.
Finally, giving induces gratitude. Cultivating gratitude helps you feel better about your life overall, not to mention the increased personal happiness it can give you.
When you give back to a cause or charity that’s made a difference in your life, using your time and writing expertise to help them achieve their mission, you’re essentially honoring and thanking those who’ve impacted you.
Learning how to write for cause marketing takes the power of your writing beyond your own interests and makes it about something larger, something that’s part of the greater good of the world. And that’s a win for everybody!
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to know more about how to write for cause marketing, take a look at Copywriting for a Cause: How to Profit as a Writer and Make a Difference in the World, by Mindy McHorse and Megan King. You’ll learn the essential elements behind well-run cause campaigns, the most powerful words and emotions to use in cause marketing, and which psychological factors to focus on when writing for “campaigns for good.”