What’s Your Cause Marketing Hedgehog?

oneWhether you’ve read the fable of the fox and the hedgehog, or the writings of philosopher Isaiah Berlin or are a fan of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, people have been talking about the Hedgehog Concept for centuries.

In a nutshell, the Hedgehog Concept is all about focusing on one area and doing it really well. Marketing guru Joe Pulizzi, who wrote about the concept as it relates to content marketing, described it as “Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.”

As cause marketers we should always be looking for our hedgehogthat one thing you should focus on that will unlock your potential with win-win partnerships.

A Cause Marketing Hedgehog that Rocks

Take the example Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Four Diamonds does a lot of things well, but their cause marketing hedgehog is a program called Mini-THON. Replicated after the wildly successful Penn State Dance Marathon, Mini-THON involves 226 schools and 40,000+ students. Last year it raised $4.3 million for Four Diamonds.

Watch the video and see for yourself how this local event is stealing the hearts of all the thousands of participants, engaging them throughout the entire school year. The kids and staff LOVE this event! It is infectious and gets into the DNA of the entire school.


This fundraiser is just getting started and cause marketing will play a key role in its growth. As an opportunity for nonprofit and for-profit partnerships, it has several key advantages:

  • Mini-THON is a fun event with lots of engagement of a young demographic that businesses love and the emotional component is really powerful.
  • While event-based, Mini-THON also has an untapped digital component – thanks to its smartphone-using participants.
  • Mini-THON was born in Pennsylvania, but is quickly growing in the Northeast. It could soon be a national program.

Imagine the benefits a corporate sponsor could enjoy by being the local hero that helps scale up this successful regional event into a national movement. What a powerful way for a corporate partner to express its values and create measurable impact while actively connecting to hearts and minds of students and teachers in thousands of local communities!  INPEX calls this “local activation at scale.” It can be very powerful and effective.

While Four Diamond has many other fundraisers, in terms of cause marketing growth none of them rival their Mini-THON. It’s their hedgehog.

Find Your Cause Marketing Hedgehog

The cause marketing hedgehog will be different for every organization.

  • cause marketing hedgehogMany organizations have strong emotional messages (e.g. they work with animals, children, injured soldiers, etc.) that would resonate well with a company’s customers and employees.
  • A conservation group may have miles of busy trails that businesses could sponsor and support.
  • A disaster relief organization with high visibility at newsworthy events could share the limelight with corporate partners.

Every nonprofit has a cause marketing hedgehog, but not every nonprofit has detected it or given it the attention deserves. Why? Because they’re too busy chasing too many things and spreading their power too thin.

As the fable of the fox and the hedgehog tells us, the fox has many tricks, but the hedgehog one good one. Don’t let your cause marketing hedgehog get away. Look for the one superior advantage and focus there.

Image Sources: Hegehog1 Hedgehog2, One

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