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Leveraging Cause Marketing to Accelerate Social Change with Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown

When a celebrity decides to support a social cause and want’s to make an impact far greater than just an endorsement, what’s involved in doing that with integrity? In this episode we chat with Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, the co-founder of Uncommon Union, an agency serving social enterprises. Elizabeth and her team manages brands for responsible companies associated with luminaries such as Hugh Jackman, Paul Farmer and Matt Damon. We discuss the concept of cause marketing and leveraging personal brand to support social causes, how her work advising United Nations’ agencies on private sector outreach could have tremendous implications on the efficacy of NGO’s and the courage it takes to intentionally slow the growth of your company so you can do work that you love.

This kind of marketing with a focus on social awareness shares a lot in common with building the foundation for any other company. Finding your cause and the emotional connection with everyone involved.  It determines who you hire, how you market and the products you develop. To cultivate a culture that works for both employees and customers … or, in the case of nonprofits, the people in need whom they assist, requires tenacity, leadership and vision.

Everyone who works for an NPO can attest to the great emotions they feel knowing their work is helping to make someone else’s life, at the very least, a little bit better. But not everyone who works for these organizations wants to conduct their day-to-day duties from behind a desk. Some, like Uncommon Union Cofounder Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, prefer to get out and actually meet those whom they’re aiding so they can see first-hand what it is they’re contributing to helping.

Elizabeth has led some fascinating social awareness campaigns in the past several years, many of which included public figures who were drawn into the causes in question and, in turn, were able to use their power of celebrity to make a difference. Regardless of whether a celeb is signed on to help out, Elizabeth will attest to the difficulty in creating a sustainable project aimed that continually lends a helping hand to others while also maintaining the fiscal wherewithal necessary to operate.

Take, for instance, her work in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. Elizabeth worked diligently to help both in the short term — getting supplies like blankets to those affected — and in the long term — creating jewelry out of the rubble and getting major brands to purchase them, with the proceeds going to those in need. That’s just one example of how one can make a difference, but to be successful in the long haul when it comes to social awareness projects, substantial business acumen and having a drive for helping others when the time comes are must-have traits.

In this Craft of Marketing episode, Elizabeth delves into the nitty-gritty of her unique role, including what led her to found her own organization, how nonprofits can transform themselves into long-lasting entities, what opened her eyes to the world of social awareness, and several other related topics of interest.

Listen in for an honest account of what marketing is all about. The tips, hacks and strategies that professionals share with each other but rarely talk about in public.


  • “Social entrepreneurship” has the ability to spread awareness of issues thanks to public figure involvement
  • As with any venture, creating and building a social awareness organization requires smart, dedicated people
  • Each social network offers a different value for getting word out about a cause and getting followers to join
  • Whether it’s a socially aware organization or a tech startup, you need passion to succeed in your job


Uncommon Union

Elizabeth on Twitter

Hugh Jackman’s Laughing Man Foundation

Choose Haiti

Kate Spade Initiative in Rwanda


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Music & Production

Sound Engineering by Johnny Ronci

FreeSpit (Instrumental) by The Impossebulls

Live dublab “Sprout Session” by Puro Instinct

Hallon by Christian Bjoerklund

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This is a labor of love, something I’ve done offline for decades and now get to share my curiosity with you. Thanks for listening to the show and to Elizabeth for being an amazing guest! Oh yeah, thank Elizabeth on Twitter, I know she’d appreciate it.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions about this episode, let me know, and if you like what I’m doing here, please share generously via the social media buttons on this page!

Xoxxo, Seth