…Specifically, as it relates to charities and non-profits.
the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
Charities usually are created and exist to fix some problem or injustice in our world, our country, our communities.
They need caring people to chip in, care, give, participate, support and guide them. With those people, this entity we call a charity can meet the needs and goals of its mission and ideally (although it very rarely happens) can close its doors knowing it did its job.
Charities are not TARGET.
Charities are not THE KEG or APPLE.
You cannot move donors or stakeholders to action by selling to them.
You cannot inspire donors or stakeholders to action by educating them.
The problem with marketing is that it is all about the charity’s identity. Their ID. Me. Me. Me.
The problem with marketing is that it is run by marketers—people who believe that the needs of their charity come before those of the people the charity requires in order to function. (Yes, I’m talking about donors here. Surprise!)
Their logo, their impressive branding style guide created by a fancy advertising agency, their mission statement, their marketing and communications department—these all take priority over the act of talking with other loving humans.
The concept of marketing in our sector has been forced upon fundraisers due to the fear of letting people talk together, cry together, be angry together, laugh together and fight together with other humans.
Marketing has become the bubble wrap that many charities surround themselves with, all in the name of professionalism and profit.
It has very little to do with the work we, as fundraisers and charities, MUST do.
Fire your branding expert, your marketing grad, your advertising creative from the commercial world. Save your organization’s money.
If you must SPEND, spend time and energy on collecting the remarkable stories made possible because your audience—your donors and stakeholders—care about your vision for a better world.
If you must SPEND, spend time and energy on connecting with other humans over the values you share with them, through whatever channel you choose, with real emotions. Care about their needs. Not yours.
If you MUST SPEND, spend it on people who understand this.