Cause Marketing by the Bag

When I was in nonprofit management I heard a lot of pitches from retailers or suppliers wanting to sell something to my list of supporters. But there was always a sticking point. Oftentimes they wanted me to just turn over my donor list. That was a nonstarter. Later they wanted to put my logo on their merchandise or sales platform, usually without any upfront money. Those terms, too, were unacceptable.

Now a West Coast coffee roaster called Newhall Coffee Roasting Company offers an approach and terms that I think a lot of nonprofit managers could swallow.

Sell fresh-roasted coffee with your nonprofit branding on it and you get to keep a “significant percentage of the proceeds.”

Called Newhall Coffee for a Cause, all sales take place on a customizable webpage and Newhall handles all fulfillment and returns. Marketing materials like fliers, brochures and postcards are also available to participants.

Very few would-be partners get this part right. The biggest 500 nonprofit charities in United States all have their own marketing departments and webmasters. Every other charity… a number which is in the tens of thousands… doesn't have the same resources.

Good for Newhall for making this so easy for charities.

All that said, I have reservations about Newhall Coffee for a Cause.
  • Any proceeds are going to a taxable to most nonprofit charities.
  • Suppose Newhall inadvertently introduces some substance or chemical into the beans sold in my branded bag that is subsequently found to be a carcinogen, whose liability is that?
  • The quarterly payment is probably fine for the largest nonprofits, but for smaller ones it’s a burden.
  • The “significant percentage of the proceeds” is too vague and not helpful.
  • Are there any minimums?
  • How much customization does Newhall permit in packaging and branding materials?
Probably some of these questions are addressed in the agreement nonprofits sign with Newhall, but it wasn’t visible on the webpages I could read.

(The photo illustration comes from Springwise.com).
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