Cause marketing

Amusement A Litopian Christmas

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David Y

Sep 24, 2019
South London
Does anyone have any experience or views on cause marketing, please? This is where you contribute a share of sales (often up to a fixed amount) to some good cause.

The theory goes if people know a % of the book price is going to charity, they'll more likely buy it. And if you get the charity on side, they could help publicise it.

I'm wondering if it might be an avenue given a) getting books published traditionally is so hard/unlikely; and b) if I self-publish nobody knows me.

Covid's hit lots of charities, so perhaps this would be good timing, if the story's a good fit.
I've been published in a couple of charity anthologies and I know a few others who have organised them. I could reach out to the editors if you have specific questions in mind?
I once tried to do a theatre project for a famous charity. I was going to do all the work (for free) and donate all proceedings to their cause; the focus was going to be the people the charity supports and raising awareness. The charity had to do nothing other than let me put their name on the flyers. I had a meet with the charity but they weren't interested, in fact they were downright rude, accusing me on wanting to ride on their name (which was VERY hurtful and insulting to me because the reasons I wanted to do it was a massive life crisis and me wanting to help those in a similar situation.) A year afterwards, all the celebs started the trend of doing documentary projects for good causes and filmed walks for charities, and nobody complained about them doing it .... Hmmm. What I'm saying, unless you are a well-known person, they may not see any benefit of being associated with you. At worst they may do what that one charity did with me and accuse you of cashing in on them; at best they may just say, OK, send us the cheque with our cut when you're done.

Like Nikki says, being published in their anthologies, or in their newsletters etc is a great opportunity for you as an author to build a career. But it's on their terms and their turf, so doing that it might not help your one book project immediately. I suspect it's more of a long term thing.

Re, selling a specific book together with a charity ... I'm not sure they would physically do much for you. Anything they do would cost them and take away from the cut they get from you. They may be charities, but they need to make money like a business. They want to do as little as poss for you and get as much as poss from you. Their business model is 'other people doing stuff for them for free and other giving donations to them' (basically they take, so they can give to others in need).

I don't really know, but I think doing it with a charity would simply be a case of you doing a lot of marketing yourself, then giving them parts of the proceeds. I'm not knocking that, I think it's lovely, but I don't know where they would promote your book, or what they would do for you. I'm just not sure they would get involved in promoting your book.

But it might be worth a shot. Maybe contact a few and see what they say. If you do you might want to have a plan in place of how you see them help you. Do you just want to put their name on your cover? Or do you want them to list your book on their website? How else do you see the collaboration? I suggest you work out a detailed proposal. Doing that also shows you care for the charity and you understand their mission.

Not sure this helps.
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Thanks, they're balanced views. I remember contacting a charity for my first book and didn't get a reply, which I thought was rude, but you're right @Barbara , these are commercial operations and will want to limit their input especially when publishing isn't their core activity. I'm thinking of contacting only one charity, one of our leading arts organisations who've directly asked patrons for donations to help preserve them. The idea of a proposal is a good one, and how to approach them too, as a direct email could get lost in their inbox.
The idea of 'cause marketing' seems a cynical way of going about things. Charities want donations and if a famous author wanted to publicise their cause for free they'd jump at it but this is the reverse. The charity helping you sell books for a price/cut of the proceeds. Personally, I wouldn't consider mixing my charitable inclinations with any sort of business. Charity is about giving, not trading benefits.
If you wrote a book that specifically relates to that charity such as a character with a mental illness and gave proceeds for the sale to their charity, e.g. MIND, I'm sure they would be very grateful, but why should they help you, and why help you financially? They rely on financial donations to help those who need their support. The celebrities who run marathons, hold concerts etc. gain for themselves (whether it is their wish to or not) through the publicity they generate, and hopefully raise awareness for the charity, because they are celebrities, but funds raised should and do (I hope) go only in one direction: from them to the charity.
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Amusement A Litopian Christmas

Thoughts in italics?