New Initiative Streamlines Research, Helps Charities

Pause to support a Cause

A new initiative led by the CMO Council offers companies a way to contribute to worthy causes at the same time that it assists them in efficiently connecting with hard-to-reach consumer segments for marketing research.

The "Pause to Support a Cause" initiative is creating a global opt-in research panel comprised of millions of consumers willing to provide detailed profiles and take online surveys in return for donations made to their chosen causes.

The objective is to channel up to 10% of funded marketing research to non-profits. It's estimated that about $18.9 billion is spent annually on market research.

"The basic idea is to enable companies who are going to spend this money anyway to accomplish their research objectives in a way that has the potential to significantly improve the lives of many, many people around the world," sums up Ed Martin, who heads up international research for The Hershey Company. Martin has made it a personal mission over the past five years to develop the initiative, with the goal of creating a program with sufficient scale to make a real difference.



The "Pause to Support a Cause" program provides consumers with another way to contribute to their favorite charities with no out-of-pocket expense, by registering (at the program's official site, to become a member of research panel. During registration, users will select one charity to support (that selection can later be changed, if desired). Those who are unsure of which charity to support will have access to detailed information, through Charity Navigator, about hundreds of charities worldwide.

Participating companies will be able to reach out to desired consumer segments based on the profile information. When an individual receives an email with an opportunity to fill out a survey, it will spell out how much will be donated to the individual's charity if the survey is completed. The individual is free to agree or decline on a case-by-case basis. Once a survey is completed, Network for Good shuttles the sponsor corporation's funds to the chosen charity.

The donation amount will vary based on the length of the survey (the amount of the consumer's time involved) and how much it would typically cost the company or organization to reach and get surveys completed by individuals within that segment via standard research channels, explains Martin. Traditionally tougher-to-reach -- and therefore more costly -- audience segments will generate larger donation amounts.

"Market researchers typically earmark substantial funds to field research and reward panel and survey participants through incentives, rewards, giveaways and other gifts that gain or induce response," noted CMO Council Executive Director Donovan Neale-May, in announcing the initiative. "By formalizing and linking survey fielding and response to non-profit donations, corporate marketers and researchers can add a powerful altruistic appeal and ensure that market research dollars produce real social value and meaningful improvement to brand image and perception."

Dozens of leading non-profits, market research groups, advertising and marketing associations, and the Business Civic Leadership Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have already signed up to participate. Major fund-raisers and foundations are anchoring the program, which will ensure that it enables global marketers to reach a "large, diverse and motivated" research panel -- including hard-to-reach demographics -- cost-effectively and efficiently from the program's inception, according to the CMO Council.

Among those committed are the American Red Cross, Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Malaria No More, Feed the Children, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation,, American Kidney Fund and the Humane Society of the United States.

In addition to non-profits' own efforts to make their supporters aware of "Pause to Support a Cause," major social media networks and portals have committed to support and promote the program.

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