Nearly nine-in-10 consumers (89 percent) want companies to support causes this holiday season, and 78 percent want to be personally engaged in these efforts, according to the 2010 Cone Holiday Trend Tracker. Half (49 percent) of Americans say they have already purchased or plan to purchase a holiday gift that supports a cause this year.

Though half of Americans are deliberately adding cause-related gifts to their holiday shopping lists, a full 80 percent would be likely to make a cause-related purchase if given the opportunity. Other ways they want to help make an impact this holiday season:

78 percent - Support a company’s in-store gift drive

68 percent - Make a donation or purchase a paper icon at the register

64 percent - Redeem or buy a discount card or coupon that gives back to a cause when shopping

47 percent - Support a company’s cause effort through social media


“The holidays are a time when companies can go back to cause marketing basics, seamlessly integrating two traditions that define the season – shopping and giving,” says Craig Bida, executive vice president, cause branding and nonprofit marketing at Cone. “Companies can use this time to raise mass amounts of awareness and dollars for critical issues through simple acts of consumer engagement.”

Cone’s previous research revealed most Americans’ (86 percent) support for a company’s cause efforts does not replace traditional giving to their favorite charities. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the top programs consumers intend to support are season staples from leading nonprofits: the Salvation Army Red Kettle (49 percent) and Toys for Tots (47 percent). Rounding out the 10 popular holiday cause programs tested, Americans plan to support: St. Jude Thanks and Giving (18 percent), Kohl’s Cares (16 percent), Macy’s Believe (14 percent), Target Gift Coin (14 percent), JCPenney Angel Giving Tree (13 percent), Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive (12 percent), Sears Heroes at Home (7 percent) and Gap Give and Get (5 percent).

“These organizations have a heritage of giving back during the holidays, but they also make sustained commitments over time,” says Bida. “The season offers a prime window to reinforce cause-related messages, but today’s savvy consumers also expect to know what you stand for throughout the year – year-in and year-out.”