Consuming for a cause

When you buy something that gives a portion of the sale price to a good cause are you really donating to charity?
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  • Updated:1 Sep 2008

05.Checklist and verdict

Good cause or are we being causewashed?

While the experts we spoke to agreed that many CRM promotions can help support a cause in a small way, they also agreed that not all partnerships are as good as they should be. So how do consumers know which partnerships are worthwhile?

Check the label. Legitimate product-cause partnerships should be transparent about how much is being contributed to the charity either as a product amount, percentage or total amount. On some high-volume products the actual amount contributed per item is very small, so these brands often talk about the total rather than the contribution per product.

Check the price of the product isn’t more than products of similar quality. There’s no point buying a bottle of water that costs $2 and contributes just 10 cents to a charity when another bottle of water costs $1. In that case, you’d be better off donating that dollar you saved.

Stop and think. Don’t let your concern for a cause encourage you to buy a product you don’t really want or need, or buy a product that could be detrimental to the cause it claims to support. Does buying bottled water that supports the environment fit with your environmental philosophy?

Ask the charity. Unless bound by confidentiality, most charities will be transparent about the contribution they receive from a partnership, so if in doubt check with the charity to make sure that the product is genuinely assisting it.

CHOICE verdict

CRM can't replace giving directly

While cause-related marketing promotions offer consumers the opportunity to make a small contribution to a good cause without having to leave the shopping aisle, this kind of marketing exercise can’t replace actual giving.

These promotions can be effective for charities, but it’s important to remember that CRM is still a business transaction. If you’re happy with the quality and price of the product, as well as the cause it supports, it’s a way to make a small contribution.

However, if there’s a cause or charity you feel strongly about, the best way to show your support is to donate directly to the charity.


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