Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2009 Issue

Cause Marketing: Increase Sales (and do a lot of good)

Beds at the adult homeless shelter.


by Renée Magriel Roberts

As the mortgage foreclosure crisis has been rippling throughout the United States with disastrous effect, our town (Harwich, located on Cape Cod in Massachusetts) has certainly not been immune. With a year-round population of only 12,700, there were over 300 foreclosures last year and even more in other Cape towns. A lot of commercial real estate seems available too. Some really great and not-so-great restaurants are history. And every time any kind of job opens up, everyone and their parents apply. This being said, in the heat of the economic crisis, our international bookselling and publishing business, conducted entirely on the internet, was not immune. We took a hit like the bookselling trade in general and like the larger Cape business community.

So when President Obama said we should all dust ourselves off and re-engage, I took him to heart. Having written a very large amount of grants in previous consultancies and projects, now at age 60, practically semi-retired at a job that was only taking a few hours a day, I applied for and received a job offer to write grants for our area's largest housing agency. I figured that I could do my part to assist people who were in housing crisis by using my writing skills. This is a problem that affects each and every one of us, whether we are in the process of losing our homes, or not.

While working at the agency, $250K in grants applied for, $32K received in two-and-a-half months, I'm pleased to say, I realized that this non-profit had a dire need for what are called "unrestricted funds". These are receipts that can be applied to administrative costs or any other program or capital improvement area. Most donors are very specific as to where they want their donations applied, as are private foundations. Public funds are also quite specific. In considering how this problem could be solved I chanced upon one of many possible solutions that would also benefit my own business, and the businesses of others in our area.

The solution is cause marketing, and the Wikipedia definition is an excellent one: "Cause marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a 'for profit' business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. The term is sometimes used more broadly and generally to refer to any type of marketing effort for social and other charitable causes, including in-house marketing efforts by non-profit organizations. Cause marketing differs from corporate giving (philanthropy) as the latter generally involves a specific donation that is tax deductible, while cause marketing is a marketing relationship generally not based on a donation."

What I proposed to my agency was this: that they set up as an eBay-approved charity under eBay's GivingWorks program. I would list some of my rare books in the normal way on eBay, with this difference: I would designate a certain amount (10-100%) of each sale as a donation to the housing agency, which operates the shelters for homeless adults, women and children, and homeless families, as well as providing a vast array of housing-related services, including mortgage foreclosure counseling, the relentless development of affordable homes, consumer financial education, and energy and weatherization so that people can afford to stay in their homes. Although the idea of working with a for-profit company was new to them, we understood that from an accounting perspective this really was no different than just accepting donations. And because, after set-up, there was no work involved except for counting the money coming in, it was not too difficult to convince my colleagues to try it out.

Since I routinely (and not happily) give over 15-20% of my sales to the sites on which I sell, it was a no-brainer to offer the same to an agency in whose work I really believe.

This is what we did: First I began working with a small group in finance and resource development. All three of us have passwords to everything we set up, so the operation is entirely transparent. The first thing we did was to go into www.missionfish.org, eBay's non-profit arm, and set up the agency as an approved non-profit. This involves submitting the IRS 501c3 designation letter and other materials related to the corporation and takes about 10 days.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.

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