Get the latest delivered to your inbox
Privacy Policy

Now Reading

First Time Research Finds That Non-Profit and Corporate Partnerships Result in Reputation and Financial Gains for the Non-Profit

First Time Research Finds That Non-Profit and Corporate Partnerships Result in Reputation and Financial Gains for the Non-Profit

Published 05-25-05

Submitted by Cone Communications

BOSTON, MA - As non-profits differentiate their brands and compete for the donor dollar, they are encouraging Americans to 'Go Red for Women' to combat heart disease or 'Race for the Cure' to fight breast cancer. These non-profits often turn towards companies to boost their visibility and raise needed funds for their cause. The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study is the nation's first benchmark on how corporate partnerships impact non-profits.

Americans reward non-profits in partnerships that support a cause

The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study, commissioned by Cone, Inc., a Boston-based strategic marketing and communications firm, finds that 89% of Americans believe that corporations and non-profits should work together to raise money and awareness for causes. Moreover, after hearing about these partnerships, Americans are more likely to feel better about that organization and support the cause.

76% of Americans believe that partnerships result in a more positive image of the non-profit
79% are more likely to buy a product that supports the non-profit
76% are more likely to tell a friend about the non-profit
70% are more likely to donate money to the non-profit

"To stay relevant and top of mind, non-profits today can't afford to discount the impact corporate partnerships can have on their brands. On the second anniversary of its National Wear Red Day, the American Heart Association (AHA) rallied more than 8,600 companies (up from 700 in the first year) to encourage their employees to participate in the day as part of their Go 'Red for Women' campaign. The result was millions of dollars raised to fight heart disease in women and hundreds of thousands of new enrollees in AHA's movement. That broad-based support would have been far less without strong, initial corporate partnerships and national sponsors, Macy's and Pfizer, which inspired the participation of so many others," says Carol Cone, Founder and Chairman of Cone, Inc..

Americans support many different types of corporate assistance

Americans agree that non-profits should leverage a variety of corporate resources to support their causes:

Employee volunteerism (75%)
Cash and product donations (67%)
Information about the charity on the company's product or packaging (66%)
Marketing and advertising support (67%)
A percentage of a product's sales to support a cause (58%)

Leadership non-profits are already engaged in successful, multi-faceted partnerships. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which raised almost $600 million in 2004, quickly became a leader in addressing breast cancer by igniting corporate support and consumer passion around their 'For a Cure' mission. For example, Komen leverages its relationship with Yoplait to increase its marketing reach, engage supporters, and increase donations through Yoplait's sponsorship of the annual The Komen Race for the Cure Series ® and the Yoplait 'Save Lids to Save Lives' campaign.

Americans want companies to support issues that are relevant to their lives: education, health, and the environment

In light of these findings, companies are now trying to determine which causes will best benefit society, enhance their brands, and create bottom-line results. Regardless of household income, Americans are most focused on the issues that have a direct impact on their own well-being. In 1993, crime and homelessness were among the top issues. Those are now replaced by education, health and environment. Issues that Americans view as important include

Issue % of Total
Education 81%
Health 81%
Environment 80%
Poverty 65%
Crime and Terrorism 65%
Youth 59%
Housing and Community Development 56%

"It's no surprise that education, health, and the environment have broken through as the top priorities Americans want companies to support. Companies know that these issues resonate with customers and employees," says Cone. "For example, General Mills' Box Tops for Education program provides parents with an easy way to earn cash for their own children's schools. Since 1996, Box Tops for Education has provided more than $100 million in cash to help schools purchase items such as computers and computer software, library books, art supplies, and playground equipment."

Americans value workforce retraining in shaky economic times

Faced with an uncertain economy, corporate scandals, and continued industry consolidation, 80% of Americans identified workforce retraining as an important issue. "Programs which focus on career training and life skills ring true with the public in these unpredictable economic times," says Alison DaSilva, Vice President at Cone. "Corporations which help Americans secure jobs are well-positioned to create positive change, strengthen brand identity, and enhance employee morale. For instance, Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. buys its brownies for its Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream from Greyston Bakery, an organization which provides employment and training to economically disadvantaged residents of Yonkers, NY."

Education issues of importance to Americans include:

Issue % of Total
Workforce retraining 80%
Literacy 74%
Student Scholarship 73%
Math and Science 72%
Computer literacy 68%
Techer recruitment/retention 60%

Preparing youth for careers is a top priority

Interest in job security is also reflected in responses regarding children and youth issues. Seventy-six percent of Americans view career preparation as an appropriate cause for companies to support. This issue is followed by physical abuse and hunger which address more basic needs of shelter, food and safety:

Issue % of Total
Career preperation % of Total
Physical abuse 80%
Hunger 74%
School violence and safety 73%
After school programs 72%
Adoption and foster-care 68%

No one health issue has broken through as a priority concern

Americans are becoming accustomed to messages, events, and awareness days for different health issues. The number of messages, however, is making it difficult for any one issue to break through as a priority concern in the health issue space. Rather, Americans view many health issues as important for companies to support:

Issue % of Total
Heart Disease 67%
Breast Cancer 66%
Long-term Care 65%
Obesity and Nutrition 62%
Prostate Cancer 59%

Some companies have identified innovative ways to make their messages heard. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade has become a platform for strengthening the 'Company for Women' and has raised more than $350 million dollars since its inception in 1993. McDonald's has also won brand recognition and customer loyalty through its 31-year commitment to Ronald McDonald Houses, which has helped more than 10 million families of seriously ill children.

More women than men feel that social issues are important for companies to address

Amongst most issue categories, a higher percentage of women than men identified issues as important. For example, more women than men felt that the following health issues were important to address:

Issue Male Female Difference
Heart Disease 64% 70% 6%
Breast Cancer 60% 71% 11%
Long-term Care 61% 68% 7%
HIV/AIDS 56% 69% 13%
Obesity and Nutrition 58% 66% 8%
Prostate Cancer 55% 63% 8%

"Since women make 80% of the household purchasing decisions, companies are aligning with relevant causes as an effective way to build brand relevance and garner customer support," says Cone. "Macy's, which supports the American Heart Association's 'Go Red for Women' campaign, has had great success with in-store promotions like the Love Notes Teddy Bear promotion which gave a $1 donation to 'Go Red for Women' for each bear purchased. sold out completely within a week."

Best practices for creating successful partnerships

To help organizations find the right partners, Cone advocates that the following:

  • Select a cause that aligns with your organization's goals and resonates with your target stakeholders
  • First commit to a cause, then pick your partners
  • Put all your assets to work
  • Communicate through every possible channel

    Through these means, non-profits and corporations will be able to create lasting and meaningful programs for a cause.

    About the 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study

    The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,033 adults comprising 519 men and 514 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for this CARAVAN® Survey was completed by Opinion Research during the period October 22 - 25, 2004. The margin of error is +/-three percentage points.

    About Cone

    The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study was commissioned by Boston-based Cone (, a strategic marketing and communications agency that builds brand trust. Cone creates stakeholder loyalty and long-term relationships through the development and execution of Cause Branding, Brand Marketing and Issues and Crisis Management initiatives. To speak with Cone executives and other experts who can discuss the importance of corporate citizenship on companies' brand and reputation, please contact Mindy Gomes Casseres at 617-939-8371 or

  • Cone Communications logo

    Cone Communications

    Cone Communications

    Cone Communications is a public relations and marketing agency known for igniting brands with high-impact strategies and programs based in deep insights, unique subject matter expertise and innovation. Focusing on key areas such as consumer product media relations, social media, cause marketing, corporate social responsibility, nonprofit marketing, corporate communications and crisis prevention/management - the agency is positioned to help clients achieve both business and societal outcomes.

    Cone Communications is a part of Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom Group Inc.

    For potential client interest, please contact:
    Marc Berliner
    (617) 939-8467
    Vice President Business Development

    Bill Fleishman

    More from Cone Communications

    Join today and get the latest delivered to your inbox