Red iPods won’t cure AIDS. Pink Everlast boxing gloves will not knock out breast cancer. Indeed, these and other cause-marketing initiatives—which support charities through the promotion of products and services—do more harm than good, says Angela Eikenberry, assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s School of Public Administration. “Consumption philanthropy is unsuited to create real social change.” Why condemn a win-win-win situation for businesses, nonprofits, and, well, the kids? Think of the kids! Because when companies partner with charities this way, only one of these groups is a true winner (guess which). We may see red and pink, but all companies see is green, Eikenberry complains. Drawing on “The Hidden Costs of Cause Marketing,” a stinging critique she recently wrote for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Eikenberry, 39, spoke from her home office in Omaha about what’s so wrong about a practice that seems so right.
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