Tag Archives: cause marketing

UNCF telethon: a black history game changer

UNCF telethon: a black history game changer

UNCF Telethon Parade of StarsLights, camera, action. In 1980 the United Negro College Fund, UNCF, launched the Parade of Stars telethon. It became a nationwide fundraising program raising millions of dollars for generations of students, and support for historically black colleges and universities. It became the largest one-day African American special event in the country. It changed black history – and American history – creating an acknowledged culture of fundraising in the African American community. America’s largest corporations became engaged. Small churches, teachers, sororities and fraternities became engaged. Donors and volunteers from across the country organized to support UNCF and celebrate black philanthropy.

Here’s the back story. The telethon actually began years earlier in Dallas, Texas. The first telethon was a live performance at the Fairmont Hotel with STAX recording artists Rufus Thomas and Johnny Taylor backed by the Dallas symphony. The performance was filmed, edited and prepared for broadcast in 13 radio and television markets across Texas. Local volunteers answered phones and families across Texas called to give. A national fundraising movement was born.

The telethon gained national exposure in 1974 with hosts Nancy Wilson and Clifton Davis. Ron Bookman secured the talent; television and radio stations broadcast in select markets at no charge. This caught the attention of Anheuser-Busch and the rest is history. Lou Rawls, as spokesman for Anheuser-Busch, became the iconic host of the telethon. American Airlines, Kellogg, General Motors soon joined as sponsors and underwriters.

The telethon became a great recruiting tool for UNCF colleges. It also increased alumni pride and giving. It sent a message to corporations and foundations: UNCF colleges are important to African Americans and America. With an ear to the ground for the drumbeat of the community, these major funders joined with grassroots America to give – and give generously – to what became the “charity of choice” for African Americans. UNCF shed its image as an organization that appealed to the elite: it had launched a “people’s campaign” engaging donors and volunteers from all walks of life.

The telethon did what hadn’t been done before. It created a culture of fundraising throughout the black community that also engaged Hispanics, American Indians and Whites. It made UNCF a household word, and the phrase “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste” one of America’s most iconic slogans. Corporations participated in cause-marketing focused on the black consumer. African Americans became the majority of UNCF donors, “documenting” their widespread support for the organization. The telethon provided an opportunity for all segments of the community to participate and be publicly recognized for their contributions. It provided economic opportunities for African American advertising agencies, marketing executives, producers, writers and small businesses. Most importantly it demonstrated the power of diverse volunteer-led fundraising. Our take: Think big, start small.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.


Cause Marketing: Grocery Shopping for Good

Women's FoundationHow do you say thank you? For this column we look to the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis for an example. They thank their supporters with a Kroger gift card, preloaded with five dollars. Shoppers take the card Kroger, add their grocery money to the card, do their shopping, pay for their groceries with the card, and then Kroger sends the Women’s Foundation five percent of what supporters spend using the gift card. Five percent. That’s a lot. And, supporters can reload their card over and over again, using it to buy groceries, gas and pharmacy items throughout the year. With every dollar spent five cents goes to the Women’s Foundation. It adds up quickly.

KrogerThis is a great example of what we refer to as a mutually beneficial cause marketing program. It builds loyalty amongst supporters of the Women’s Foundation who are also Kroger’s shoppers. It creates a revenue stream for the Women’s Foundation. It provides Kroger with an opportunity to provide funding to an organization their shoppers support. Everybody wins. Grocery shopping suddenly has a new meaning and a new impact

Wanting a “behind the scenes” look we asked Tracy Burgess, Development Manager at the Women’s Foundation how the program is working. She let us know they are promoting the cards with the slogan Buy Now Give Now. “We wanted to focus on giving something to the people of Memphis that will allow each to be a philanthropist. In this economy the gift card gives everyone a way to give even though their own budgets may be tight. It expands the definition of what it means to be a philanthropist.”

Burgess also mentioned that staff are recording the names and email addresses of people they give a gift card to so they can be sure to follow up and let participants know how their use of the card is impacting the Foundation’s work. You know we like to hear that – at the end of the day it is all about stewardship. Saying “thank you” over and over again.

Think about your organization and the people it touches. Think about businesses with shared values. Think creatively about how each can benefit the other and the community. Write up your ideas. Talk with the leadership of your proposed cause marketing partner and see what you can create together that generates benefits for your community. When done right cause marketing programs can build customer loyalty for a business, a revenue stream for a non-profit, and a new way for current – or new donors – to provide financial support during challenging times.

© Copyright Saad & Shaw.  Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727

National Fundraising — The Power and Impact of Local Volunteers

From time to time we seek to share what we have learned from Mel’s 25 years with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and his work developing and producing the Lou Rawls UNCF Telethon. In this column we focus on the impact that local volunteers – and local campaigns – have on the fundraising of national organizations.

Back in the day the Lou Rawls UNCF Telethon was the largest African American fundraising special event held on a single day anywhere in the world. Over the years, the telethon raised over $500 million dollars. Lou Rawls was certainly the star of the show, but the real stars were the thousands of volunteers who raised money in communities across the country during the six-to-nine months leading up to the telethon.

Mel Shaw, Lou Rawls & Jim Alston

While people continuously called into the show to pledge their gifts, 60 – 70% of the money was raised in advance from local communities. These local UNCF campaigns were led by volunteers who were respected at the grass roots level – and at the highest levels – in the communities where they lived and worked. UNCF volunteers raised funds from churches, civic organizations, local businesses, families and individuals. All gifts were recognized publicly during the telethon. Local TV and radio stations invited leaders and every-day folk to make their gifts on air. Some local gifts were announced on the national show. The anticipation of being publicly recognized and acknowledged in front friends, neighbors and co-workers helped stimulate giving and ongoing involvement.

The one-day telethon was the culmination of a year’s worth of planning, preparation, training and follow up. The fundraising was non-stop – and there was never be enough staff. We learned how to depend on and trust volunteers in local communities. We focused our efforts on training and preparing these volunteers, and made it a high priority to recognize and acknowledge their work.

Finding the right volunteers was at the heart of all our local campaigns. Cities such as San Antonio, Albuquerque, Kansas City, Phoenix, Portland (OR), and Omaha operated volunteer-led campaigns without the day-to-day support of local staff. All were successful in creating a buzz for UNCF and the telethon. San Antonio in particular extended that buzz beyond the black community and engaged large numbers of Hispanic volunteers and donors. Cities with a UNCF office such as New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Miami had local and regional responsibilities. Staff were charged with managing the local production of the telethon as well as implementing the volunteer-led fundraising plan.

The number one thing that made a difference in the telethon’s success was the power and impact of qualified, committed and trained local volunteers – including those from Memphis. UNCF’s commitment to localized fundraising kept people giving, year-after-year.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.

We Care, We Share – Cause Marketing Campaigns

Individuals, families, foundations, public agencies, and businesses and corporations all play key roles in the work of non-profit organizations across our country. One way that businesses support non-profits is through what is called “cause-marketing campaigns” that highlight selected organizations through the promotion of the business’ products and services.

A successful cause marketing campaign benefits the business or corporation, selected non-profits, and the consumer. Creating a link between a business and a non-profit provides a business with a way to attract the attention of consumers who believe in the organization. It also positions the business as a “good corporate citizen,” and helps build brand loyalty even in challenging economic times.

That loyalty can increase if its customers see that the business has a commitment to worthy non-profits in their community. For its part, the non-profit gains the benefit of exposure generated by the promotional campaign as well as funding it derives from the campaign. Consumers who make purchases during these campaigns gain a product or service, and a feeling of goodwill, knowing that a portion of the proceeds will benefit the organization they believe in.

One such example is what Toyota Motors is doing. They are encouraging local dealerships across the country to support the work of non-profits in their communities by offering a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $10,000 to each participating dealership. In Memphis, Tennessee Chuck Hutton Toyota Scion is committing $100 for each car sold in December and January with the goal of raising $10,000 to secure the maximum match. The goal is to create a $20,000 “charity pot” that will be distributed among four local non-profits. The campaign is called We Care We Share.

So, for the rest of January, driving off in a new car from Chuck Hutton Toyota Scion will also help raise funds for local nonprofits in Memphis. Further engaging their public, the dealership is inviting people to vote for which four of six local organizations they would like to see split the pot at the end of the campaign. The six organizations are The Exchange Club Family Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis, New Ballet Ensemble & School, Urban Art Commission, Wolf River Conservancy, and Soulsville Foundation.

This gives consumers two ways to participate. Purchase a Toyota or Scion from the Chuck Hutton dealership and help increase the contents of the charity pot. Vote for which of the organizations should receive the contents of the charity pot.

Take a moment to see for yourself. Visit the Chuck Hutton website to learn more about the promotion, to vote, and to learn more about Memphis area local non-profits.

This is just one creative way that local businesses can support local non-profits doing good work in the community.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw.

What You Can Learn From a Fundraising Feasibility Study

Too often organizations are focused on how quickly they can begin fundraising. “We need the money now!” is a common cry. Our response is simply it’s not how quickly you begin raising money, it’s how quickly you reach your fundraising goal.

If you start your fund-raising without finding out how local stakeholders and potential donors will respond to the specifics of your campaign, you will probably raise some money, but the real question is “will you raise all the money you need? Fundraising campaigns that launch without the market research that a fundraising feasibility study provides can later find themselves in the midst of what is known as ‘campaign stall’ – they have raised a percentage of their goal, but they can’t raise the remaining funds.

Conducting a fundraising feasibility study or survey is one way to avoid such stall. This is because the results of the study will let you know important information such as:

  1. How do those interviewed really feel about your proposed fundraising campaign? Do they understand what you are raising money for and how those funds will help you deliver on your mission?
  2. Do your current and prospective donors believe the organization or institution is headed in the right direction?
  3. How do they rate your CEO, board members, and staff?
  4. Do people believe your organization fulfills an important role in the community? Do they know your mission, vision, and major programs?
  5. Are they willing to give to your proposed fundraising campaign? Why or why not? If yes, at what level? If no, would they consider making a gift at a later date?
  6. Are there others they know who would want to financially support your organization?
  7. Who can provide volunteer fundraising leadership? Who amongst those interviewed would be willing to give their time to help you raise the money you need? Who else can they recommend to provide such leadership?
  8. Who can provide in-kind resources to help offset costs associated with fundraising and annual operations? Can a local company provide your printing? Can a realtor help you secure donated office space?
  9. Most importantly, do those interviewed believe you can reach your fundraising goal, and how much time do they think it will take for you to do so?

That last point is the most important. If the people you intend to ask to financially support your organization are not willing to do so, it is important for you to know their objections, to take the time to address them (if you choose to do so), and as needed to find other individuals and institutions who feel more favorably towards your organization, its leadership, mission and goals.

The information gained from feasibility interviews can help you modify your proposed fundraising strategies and activities. It can also help you address the concerns of those interviewed and to take advantage of opportunities you may not have otherwise known of.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.

Ed McMahon and black history

Ed McMahon - co-host of the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars

Ed McMahon - co-host of the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars

This week America mourns the passing of Ed McMahon an entertainment giant, household name, and trusted American icon. He is remembered by the general public for his 30 years as Johnny Carson’s side-kick on The Tonight Show, his 12 years as the host of Star Search and his 16 years co-hosting TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes with Dick Clark.

He earned a place in American cultural history. And he earned a place in African American history.

As the creator and producer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Lou Rawls Parade of Stars telethon I want to salute Ed McMahon for his work as the show’s co-host for over 17 years.

From the very beginning Ed lent his name, his prestige and his connections to the telethon. His role as co-host helped UNCF raise over $500 million and helped send thousands of young African Americans to college.

McMahon shared his celebrity, his reputation and his integrity with the telethon. His involvement helped to bring well established non-black entertainers onto the show giving it a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” His continuous role as co-host helped to extend the college fund into white homes who otherwise might have dismissed the telethon – and its important work of raising scholarship funds – as a “black thing.” Ed brought a diverse audience to the telethon. He gave the show credibility. He helped make the education of young black students an issue for all Americans to embrace.

When we wanted to engage a non-black entertainer Ed would make it happen. He would come into a room where we were meeting, pull out his little black book and personally call the entertainers we wanted on the show. He would ask and they would say yes.

You can’t buy what Ed McMahon gave. He was flexible and patient. He never asked for special treatment. He didn’t have an ego problem. He was a consummate professional. You could put a new script before him and he would read his lines as if he had been practicing for weeks.

He was so well liked by all. Of all the hundreds of stars who appeared on the show he was the easiest person to work with. He would spend enormous hours rehearsing. He never complained about all retakes and retaping. His famous line was “Point me where to go and I’ll do it.”

Ed McMahon is part of African American history!

Cause marketing – everyone wins


Subaru cause marketing a win-win-win

Cause marketing is one way for businesses and non-profit organizations to partner with each other to create value, generate revenue and increase visibility.

Here’s a real life example.

In November we leased a Subaru Legacy. We love it! Great car. Great lease price. Meets all our needs and those of our new dog. In our search for a new vehicle Mel spent months test driving cars and negotiating lease prices. We found the Legacy by chance. We drove by a Subaru dealership on our way to the movies and saw a Legacy out front with a sign that said $199/month.

Well that’s a great price. And Mel said it’s top rated by Car & Driver magazine. We were sold. But we got more than we bargained for. The dealer told us that with our lease Subaru would give $250 to a non-profit of our choosing.

It turns out that Subaru was running a cause marketing campaign. They had selected five non-profits that are aligned with the values of their customers. A niche marketer, Subaru knows that its customers have active lifestyles, are technologically sophisticated, and champion environmental issues and education. In fact, Subaru is the official vehicle of more than 20 non-profit outdoor and professional organizations. Subaru knows who buys their cars and they created a marketing campaign that addressed the desire of Subaru owners to help worthy causes.

The five charities selected were Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Habitat for Humanity International, Meals on Wheels Association of America, National Wildlife Federation and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Subaru gave $4,686,750 to these organizations. Checks were presented on February 12th at the Chicago Auto Show. Subaru gave away over $4.5 million and yet it was in the black financially while Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and even Toyota and Honda finished in the red.

As another example of how well this program was run we received a letter from Meals on Wheels Association of America thanking us for designating their organization when we bought our car. In their letter they clearly communicated how important local Meals on Wheels programs are to individual seniors and how the Meals on Wheels Association of America is important to local Meals on Wheel programs.

We leased a car. Subaru increased its revenue. Seniors across America are receiving meals delivered to their doors. Cause marketing at its best.

Copyright 2009 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Women celebrities who give back

SelmaHayekThe May 2009 issue of More magazine features Ten Women Who Give Back. If you didn’t have a chance to read it you can view the slideshow online. So many women are busy giving not only of their time  but of their money. These are women who are involved with cause marketing programs, raising funds for non-profits, and managing their own foundations. Read philanthropy profiles Oprah Winfrey (of course!) as well as Salma Hayek, Gloria Estefan, Bette Midler and More! Learn who is supporting multiple sclerosis research, YouthAIDS, the ASPCA, New York City’s parks, breast cancer support services and research, victims of violence and abuse and more!