Transparency in Cause Marketing


How transparent is cause related marketing? Do you really know if the $5 that you spend on a Starbucks bracelet will actually help create jobs in America? Or, is the role of Starbucks to create jobs or sell good coffee?

Mara Einstein , an associate professor at Queens College enters this debate with an article titled “Charities shouldn’t let corporate marketers set the agenda,” in the May 3 edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Einstein argues that when businesses sell products by touting social causes, they begin to pollute the sacred territory of charities. This creates a power imbalance causing product manufacturers to focus on the bottom line rather than on the charitable intent.

In a sagging economy where neither governments nor nonprofits alone can create jobs, why can’t for-profit businesses sell more products and do good for society? The more we spend, the economy performs better. Einstein counters this argument stating that when businesses start helping charitable causes, government will cut spending on critical areas.

Einstein suggests that businesses could  be more transparent and let donors know how the money is used. What if Starbucks could explain where the $5 donations went? Will all funds go towards creating jobs?  A transparent, online site that tracks  cause-marketing initiatives and societal benefits will be useful.

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