Marketing that makes an impact

River conservation nonprofit uses cause marketing for fundraising
Cause marketing can help landscaping business owners leverage good will into new business.

Water is one of our most important resources, and landscape businesses are keenly aware of how valuable—and scarce—it is. For business owners who are looking for ways to give back to their community but are struggling with the demands of running a small business, cause marketing can help them leverage good will into new business.

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In a cause marketing partnership, a business and a nonprofit work together to support a common goal. The business pays a royalty to a nonprofit that aligns with its mission. In return, the business has the right to use the nonprofit’s logo on products or in marketing materials.

Tim Carlson, founder of Grand Junction-based nonprofit Forever Our Rivers, is an environmental engineer with a background in construction and design. The organization raises money to fund grants for river conservation and restoration projects.

“The thing that happens in the nonprofit world is that although there are a lot of mechanisms for generating financial resources, it all comes down to going out to donors and begging for money,” he said.

He turned to cause marketing as a solution. “Why don’t we think about creating a unique graphic that would represent the importance of rivers to businesses,” he said, and give those businesses a way to show their customers what matters to them.

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“We disperse that to nonprofits that are working on rivers in various capacities,” Carlson explained. “Their customers utilize rivers in one form or another: fishing, rafting, bird watching. There are other companies that rely on healthy rivers for making their product. Think of breweries: the craft beer industry and the large breweries, Coors and Anheuser Busch.”

Landscaping and lawn care companies are ideal partners for organizations like Forever Our Rivers, especially in states like Colorado where outdoor recreation is such a big part of our lifestyle.

Businesses that partner with the organization pay a royalty based on the size of their company. They then have the right to use the logo in their marketing and advertising, and even on their vehicles.

“What it would help them do is differentiate themselves from their competition,” Carlson said. “Everybody is looking for a means to say, ‘We not only do good landscaping work, we do something different.’”

Carlson has admittedly “lofty” goals for the foundation. Within the next five years, he aims to generate $10 million annually to provide grants to nonprofits and communities that are dedicated to preserving and improving rivers.

“That’s a big push, but we think we can do it,” he said.

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