Why Direct Line’s Mark Evans believes CMOs can help ‘sometimes beleaguered, under resourced charity marketers’

The top marketer at Direct Line Mark Evans will this weekend see the fruits of his Cancer Research fundraising endeavour come to fruition, as he calls on fellow senior marketers to help small to medium sized charities that are often under-resourced to raise funds.

This Saturday 24 September Evans’ brainchild the Sprintathon will see 422 people collectively run a marathon, with each one reaching 100m as fast as they possibly can. The event has been created to raise funds for Stand Up To Cancer, the joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 to accelerate cancer research and save more lives. Via the Sprintathon, Evans is hoping to break the world’s fastest ever marathon and help to beat cancer at the same time.

The event is also being backed by the Marketing Society through its Marketing for Good: Make a Difference initiative, which has been created to give its network of marketers the opportunity to give something back.

In an exclusive interview with The Drum, Evans said that top class marketers are a “missing skill” in the charity sectors “armoury” and explained why he thinks the industry should lend their marketing prowess to a worthy cause.

“From my perspective [small to medium sized] charities do not tend to have a graduate intake of marketers or are able to afford top level marketers,” he said. “The very nature is that it is often ‘make do’ in many cases and so it’s not usually a hunting ground for top class marketers - that’s a missing skill in their armoury.

“There are many great marketers in the UK who do have discretionary time, effort and will, but the connection hasn’t been made forcefully, so I think what the Marketing Society is trying to do is brilliant because there are many marketers out there who can reapply their success and achieve significance in a sector that really needs it.”

Marketing for Good: Make a Difference was formed in 2013 after Marketing Society chief executive Gemma Greaves helped a charity with its marketing only to find that she was unable to help the charity out as much as she would like due to time constraints. Greaves then decided to team with Pimp My Cause, a web platform that connects the world of marketing with good causes.

“I think what we are doing right now is on a tipping point of opportunity and on the cusp of something very exciting that we could take out on a wider scale and make a real impact as an industry,” Greaves told The Drum. “It is something that we as marketers have a responsibility to do as we are uniquely placed with our skill set; understanding the customer, driving growth, leading innovation, driving the change and leading people to have an impact.”

So far the initiative has matched over 100 of its members with a variety of charities including St John’s Ambulance (Gareth Simpson, Leo Burnett); Stand Against Violence (Justin Cernis, The Cernis Collective) and Yes To Life (Celia Pronto, Ford Retail Group).

The outcome so far has been “two-fold” with both the charities involved benefiting from expertise and the marketers themselves having the opportunity to be hands on and enhance their skills in different ways.

“We can add energy to the thinking process and the discipline of marketing and energy to sometimes, beleaguered, under resourced charity marketing folks but also personal energy, it does feel good to do good,” added Evans.

The campaign to support the Sprintathon was created by WCRS.

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