Cause Marketing in a Time of Crisis

There are hundreds of organizations finding new ways to give and offer support during this time of crisis. In an attempt to figure out what that means for us and for our clients, I have been able to share with our team and those we work with that it comes down to aligning what you do to your purpose and the needs of those you serve. Last month, I joined CREW Marketing Partners for a webinar about Cause Marketing in a Time of Crisis and today, I’ll share with you what I was able to share with those who participated in the webinar and some practical steps you and your organization can take during this time.

Remember your core customer.

Right now, it’s important to be focusing on your core customers with a commitment to understanding their needs and what they care about. A good way to frame this in light of the current crisis is to ask: “For your core customer or your core donor, what is keeping them up at night?” Whatever it is that’s keeping them up at night should be a problem you can help them solve. Using the tools in your hands and the people in your circle, how can you solve that problem for your core customer, in a unique way?

For a lot of our clients that are non-profits organizations, their core donor is 65-year old and worried about not being able to connect with their children and their grandchildren and are worried about contracting the virus. How can you help to solve that problem? Maybe you have something that you can repackage and give to them or create something that would provide them with hope during this time.

Remember: Who are you called to serve and how can you serve them well right now? Once you’ve identified those two answers, be sure to take some time to anticipate what the needs of your core customer/donor are going to be when the crisis is over.

Thank people and don’t ask for anything from them.

Picking up the phone can seem like insanity in a time of text messaging and email. When we’re pressed, though, we find out how much we really need human connection. This is a great time to pick up the phone and thank your core customer/donor. Combat the loneliness people are feeling by making some calls. For the first time, there’s capacity to get to know your people, pray for them, pray with them about the work of your organization and to simply be in contact with them – perhaps like never before. Treat them kindly, find out how they’re doing, ask them how you can engage them and what they care about.

Define your brand.

It’s a critical time to live out your brand – and if you don’t know what your brand is, it’s the right time to define it. If your communications team is overloaded from responding to the COVID-19 crisis, your team needs permission to take a step back, breathe, and think about how they can really communicate your brand during this time. We’ve been settling into our ‘new normal,’ but I’m continually reminded that as leaders, we need to remind our teams to breathe and that everything is going to be okay.

Rather than simply reacting and throwing content and communications out, start by revisiting your mission and values organizationally, and staying in your lane. This is something we’re doing right now, as an agency, and we’re encouraging our clients to do the same. What you’re building in this season will be far more useful in six months than if you are focused on responding, reacting and pushing content out. When the dust settles, you’re going to be stronger as an organization if you take the time to do these things now. You can read more about living out your brand in a crisis here.

Any questions? Interested in how our team of experts can serve you at this time? We’d love to connect with you. Send us an email at

Ellen Graf-Martin

Ellen Graf-Martin – Founder/President