Selling A Cause With A Product

Updated: Oct 26 2003, 05:30am hrs
A cause-related marketing strategy is nothing new for the corporate world. So why should the social sector stay behind I am selling a cause with a product, says Jeroninio Almeida, chief executive and director, fund raising, ActionAid India.

ActionAid India has launched an innovative campaign for fund raising called Karm Mitra. It is based on the concept that when people do good they get good things in return.

In this era of buy one get one free, Karm Mitra offers to provide food for your soul against donation and freebies to quench what is but human desire.

The Karm Mitra credit card membership (annual) has four categoriesRs 3,000, Rs 6,000, Rs 12,000 and Rs 24,000with return offers like 50 per cent tax exemption, tickets for music concerts, holiday packages, life insurance, movie premieres, etc.

According to Mr Almeida there is a lot of potential to expand the base of fund-raising in India. Research shows that around three crore people pay substantial taxes in the country, whereas the number of people making donations for charity is only two lakh.

Though giving is a tradition in India, it is done in a sporadic manner, says Mr Almeida, adding that donations are made by way of helping some poor relation or perhaps a maid at home.

In fact, the non-governmental sector faces stiff competition in raising resources as people are sceptical. On how he came up with the concept of Karm Mitra, Mr Almeida says, We wanted to raise funds from India and the idea was conceptualised a year ago. We did not want a passive kind of fund-raising, we wanted it to be professional.

Ashutosh Bishnoi, vice-president (Marketing) of Om Kotak Mahindra believes in the products (Karma Mitra) success because it is being managed professionally. The company is providing insurance to card holders.

Says Mr Bishnoi, This is not like a regular donation programme. Everybody knows they can walk into any NGO and make donation. But why Here, a great deal of thought has gone into understanding the mindset of the donor as well. Apart from offering a value proposition, huge awareness has been created through marketing activities and celebrity endorsements to establish credibility in the minds of people.

In fact, the programme aims to create direct contact with people. For this purpose, direct selling and marketing agents have been involved to market the product.

Adds Mr Bishnoi, This is a precedent of sorts. This is a wonderful instance of blending of business and social objectives of two different organisations.

V Vaidyanathan, head, Retail Products Group, ICICI Bank is also happy. Says he, We are delighted to launch the ICICI Bank ActionAid Karma Mitra card. It provides us an excellent platform to strengthen a social cause. Also, there are a number of people who would be happy to contribute to a good cause, but do not find the time. This arrangement gives our customers an easy and a convenient way of contributing to the society while using a credit card exactly the way they normally would.

Besides ICICI Bank and Om Kotak Mahindra, ActionAid India has signed MoUs with Heritage Hotels, Reliance Infocom and Mantra Entertainment Ltd to bring the Karm Mitra members the promised benefits. The MoUs with these companies are for three years to begin with.

Mr Almeida is very confident about the products success. We are sitting with a winning idea. The product will keep on evolving, though. It will get bigger and better as we add more new features to it, promises Mr Almeida.

The product will be launched initially in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Pune in November first week. ActionAid targets to raise around Rs 10-15 crore by December 2004.