Selling for a Cause

Make a profit while helping a nonprofit.

by Danna Crawford
- Sep 04, 2009

I was first introduced to the concept of "cause marketing" by David Yaskulka, owner of He was a special guest on my radio show in 2007, and I've learned a great deal from him over the years.

Cause marketing basically involves a business supporting a good cause by using marketing techniques to promote a nonprofit organization, and raise funds at the same time.

Businesses reach out to nonprofits not only to "feel good," but also to help enhance the traffic to their sites. How does that work? Well, shoppers want to know who this business is that helped out an organization and donated so much time and money for its cause. In some cases, buyers will only shop with businesses that support certain nonprofits. You just may be the one supporting the organization with a large following—which could potentially bring you more business. Earning respect from faithful customers who are dedicated to businesses that support a cause is the ultimate reward for everyone involved.

Affiliate marking can also come into play here. As an online merchant, you can seek out programs that offer affiliate partnerships that support a high-profile nonprofit. The additional keywords will help increase your Web site traffic during a seasonal charity event.

Adding color themes to Web sites, blogs or Facebook accounts, as well as customized widgets and/or gadgets supporting a cause is another attention-grabbing technique to make the window shopper stop and take a second look into your marketplace.

The eBay Giving Works platform follows a customized calendar that promotes different charitable causes throughout the year. The site goes above and beyond with marketing on its home page that highlights the cause and places a featured nonprofit in the spotlight, while many others are linked throughout the page.

Here is the basic calendar that is followed on a global level:

January/February Healthy hearts
February/March Supporting the arts
April Environment
May Global poverty
June Empowerment through entrepreneurship
July Animals
August/September Education
October Breast cancer awareness
November AIDS
December Children

A perfect example of "spotlight on the cause" campaigns takes place during the month of October. This is the time of year when many companies reach out by showing pink products supporting breast cancer awareness. The Susan G. Komen Foundation has branches throughout the United States. eBay sellers can search the directory for a branch in their area.

One advantage to selling for the cause is it puts your eBay items into another area of search

During this time, I usually pick up a pink bra and list it on eBay with 100 percent of the proceeds going to charity.

One advantage to selling for the cause is it puts your eBay items into another area of search. When buyers or supporters view the list for their favorite charity, they can now spot your eBay listing on the master nonprofit list. This gives you added exposure. Buyers viewing the list might not purchase that particular item, but they are more likely to roam into your eBay Store or click to view your other items.

I've made several sales this way, and I've even bought a few items this way myself.

Cause marketing offers all sorts of online opportunities. Here are a few ways to "showcase" your support:

  • Web site owners can set up affiliate campaigns according to the cause of the month.
  • Bloggers can write about the cause and feature a nonprofit, while providing a widget that allows viewers to donate directly to the cause of choice.
  • Almost all nonprofits can be found on Facebook. I suggest adding a widget for the cause to your business' Facebook page.
  • Web sites, blogs, eBay store fronts and eBay listings can provide color themes highlighting the cause with banners and templates, creating that obvious show of support (e.g., shades of pink during Breast Cancer Awareness month).

  • Many major corporations have successfully employed cause marketing, earning respect and gaining repeat customers, while taking their businesses to higher levels. Being consistent monthly, seasonally or year round can encourage nonprofit supporters to visit your site often and/or shop with you.

    Reach out, pay it forward and help your business at the same time. What an amazing concept!

    About the Author

    Danna Crawford, CEO of PowerSellingMom, Inc., has been a successful eBay seller since 1997. In 2008, she received eBay's Community Hall of Fame award, as well as the Golden Ribbon Community Seller Award from eBay Giving Works. As an eBay Certified Education Specialist, she teaches at the community college and university levels, and frequently speaks on topics such as how to make money blogging, writing eBooks and more. Crawford can be heard every Friday night on her Internet radio show, PowerSellingMomRadio, and in weekly webinars at

    Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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