10 Experts, 10 Predictions, 1 Year

Jan 9, 2012 10:56 AM ET

What Do You Stand For?

Last month we looked back at the top trends of 2011, but now that the New Year is upon us, it's time to look forward to what 2012 has in store. We've convened the biggest and brightest minds in cause marketing, corporate responsibility, nonprofit marketing and volunteerism to share their top predictions for the New Year: 

Joe Waters, Blogger, Selfishgiving.com; Co-Author, Cause Marketing for Dummies
"My one cause marketing prediction is that by the end of 2012, we'll finally have a mobile donation platform for smartphones that consumers will use for everyday giving. Text-to-give works for disasters, but there's no good vehicle for regular giving for mobile donors that has any momentum in the marketplace. That could change this coming year."

Joanne Fritz, Writer, About.com, Nonprofit & Charitable Orgs

"Donors will rebel against charity contests. Contests have peaked and will decline in participation. Charities are tired of competing, and supporters are sick of promoting companies."

Ryan Scott, CEO, Causecast
"2012 will see the rise of the employee activist. As 2011 saw the second coming of the consumer activist with powers heretofore inconceivable, the new year will bring the awakening of the most powerful brand ambassadors - the employees. This year employees will awaken to the opportunity they have to create real change inside the corporation and in their communities, simultaneously. Corporations will embrace the chance to help their employees to make that change."

Aman Singh, Editorial Director, CSRWire; CSR Blogger
"As CSR and sustainability continue to converge into ‘business excellence,' we will see a growing recognition within executive ranks to understand, recognize and leverage the value of a responsible and sustainable work culture. 2012 just might be the year when change management becomes institutionalized as a prerequisite for growth and profitability."

Casey Brennan, Marketing Manager, VolunteerMatch
"Companies will lead volunteer engagement: It's a known fact that individuals volunteer less during tough economic times. In addition, government budgets were cut, meaning there will be less government investment rallying citizens to volunteer. It will be companies who step in to encourage individuals and employees to volunteer - not just because they're trying to fill the void, but because it has a direct impact on the health of their business. Consumers want to see companies making authentic, sustainable efforts for the betterment of society, and there's no better way than helping others make a local impact. In addition, a well-run employee volunteer program positively contributes to staff recruitment, retention and productivity, helping individuals feel like they're having a positive impact on society through their place of employment."

Kate Olsen, Senior Manager, Partnerships at Network for Good
"In 2012, we are going to see a deeper integration of social business values into cause-related initiatives. Through social channels, business, culture and media collide at Web 2.0 speed, disrupting entrenched paradigms and elevating the voice of the individual. It's that voice (from both consumers and employees) that will keep companies transparent, authentic and impact-oriented – and ultimately shape the future of corporate-cause partnerships."

David Hessekiel, President, Cause Marketing Forum
"We will see a major giving back initiative capture the imagination of the country in 2012 and serve as a unifying force much as the LiveStrong bracelet did back in 2004."

Dipti Pratt, Marketing Director, Entrepreneurs Foundation
"Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will continue to become more completely integrated and visible throughout company operations. As companies continue to incorporate CSR into overall corporate operations, CSR professionals will have the opportunity to deepen the social impact of their CSR programs. In addition to greater social impact, companies will experience greater overall corporate and cultural benefits from their CSR programs. The increased focus on CSR will have a positive and meaningful impact on society, corporations and the employees of these corporations alike."

Katya Andresen, Chief Strategy Officer, Network for Good; Blogger, Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog

"We will see cause campaigns shift from a company-centric to consumer-centric perspective. Instead of campaigns that tread into self-congratulatory territory ('our company is so great because we support this cause'), we'll see a strong step toward campaigns that empower the consumer to effect social change with companies' support. The spotlight will be on the consumer rather than the corporation. Just as companies have had to shift from a broadcast to a relationship model in social media, they will do so in their cause marketing work as well. They know it's the best way to win over consumers and drive business objectives."

Cone Communications
"Look out for an influx of disruptive campaigns in 2012. The cause industry continues to mature, and with the flood of new campaigns in the market, companies and nonprofits must do more to make sure their cause stands out in the chatter. Companies will make bigger and braver commitments, support broader and bolder issues and increasingly go out on a limb all in the name of cause. We'll also see more companies support niche causes and partner with smaller, more nimble nonprofits for further differentiation. Let's shake things up this year!"

That's not all. Our experts shared much more about what they think 2012 has in store, including the issues and programs that will take center stage. Find the full list of 2012 programs, trends and predictions on the WDYSF? blog.