"woman's handshake"Four Criteria for Nonprofits to Consider before Choosing a Worthy Cause Marketing Partner Company

Looking to help your nonprofit organization build the most productive worthy cause marketing (WCM) partnerships? Michael Houlihan, coauthor with Bonnie Harvey of The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built a Bestseller (coming in February 2013 from Evolve Publishing ), shares four criteria to consider as you look for partner companies:

1. Geographical Proximity. Remember, local is best! Identify companies that are distributing and marketing in the same area where your members live. Your members can be their customers, and their customers might become your members, donors, and/or event attendees.

2. The Right Product (or Service). Their customers are most likely to become your members (and vice versa) if their product or service complements your NPO’s mission and/or events. Ask yourself: Would our message resonate with people who buy this product or service? Would this product or service contribute to the enjoyment of the people who attend our events? Can their product or service be used by us and/or be auctioned by us to help raise funds?

When Barefoot was starting up, several NPOs that hosted social events knew that attendees would appreciate the donation of their wine at no cost to themselves…or to the NPO! (Admittedly, donated wine isn’t usually a tough sell!)

3. The Right Size. When it comes to worthy cause marketing, size does matter. In this case, smaller is better! Small companies truly need your help. Because they are usually seeking to grow, they will be more willing to put in the man hours alongside you…and you can grow and build each other’s brands together.

4. Potential to Benefit. Identify companies that would benefit most if your NPO is successful. These might include: small companies with the potential for growth, companies whose product might be attractive to your existing members, companies whose products or services ultimately require the kind of future your NPO envisions, and companies that would grow in popularity as your shared cause is advanced.

About the Authors:

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, authors of The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built a Bestseller, started the Barefoot Wine brand in their laundry room in 1986, made it a nationwide bestseller, and successfully sold the brand to E&J Gallo in 2005. Starting with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles and create new markets.

They were pioneers in what they termed “worthy cause marketing” and performance-based compensation. They held a comprehensive view of customer service, resulting in the National Hot Brand Award for outstanding sales growth in 2003 and 2004.

They now share their experience and innovative approach to business as consultants, authors, speakers, mentors, and workshop leaders. Their book, The Barefoot Spirit, chronicles the history and lessons learned building the popular Barefoot Wine brand.