I admit my first post was a little simplistic but more importantly I think I missed the mark in my rant.
As a result, it became part of a little virtual dust up between marketers and fundraisers. You can read Gail’s post and then Kivi’s if you want to follow along. (Bonus marks to Kivi for one of the best blog headers I have seen in some time!)
Let me back up for one moment and define marketing.
Traditional (consumer) marketing focuses on the amazingness of the product and why I need to have it
– our product will make you a better person
– the product is the hero
– it’s fundamentally egocentric – our logo, our brand, our amazingness…
Fundraising (donor) marketing focuses on the amazingness of the donor and why we need them
– you are awesome and make us a better charity
– the donor is the hero
– fundamentally altruistic and empathetic – your action, your attention, your difference…
Is there room for both at a charity? Let me be clear: ABSOLUTELY!
If you are a theatre, you need to sell tickets to your show because it is an amazing production and people need to see it. (Our show will change you!)
If you are a theatre, you also need support to keep the lights on, upgrade the facility and make sure the theatre lives on for the community. (You will make sure our theatre will be here for anyone who needs it.)
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Kivi starts to touch on it with:
“Communications directors are often tasked with acquiring and retaining not just donors, but program participants, advocates, and volunteers. They must also build influence with elected officials, the media and other community power brokers. When the mission of the nonprofit is educating the world about a wrong and how to right it, or encouraging behavior changes in individuals, that too is usually on the communications director’s plate. We often lump all this stuff under “engaging the community” as shorthand. Changing the world is the hard work of nonprofits, and that requires more than just the money that fundraisers bring in.”
This is the part that is a little overlooked.
As a charity, you don’t just communicate and fundraise to ONE audience. You have many audiences.
I go to Niagara-on-the-Lake to see the latest production at the Shaw because I love theatre and I also support it to make sure they can keep putting on great productions.
I am a CUSTOMER and a DONOR. And I should be spoken to differently depending on which audience segment you find me in.
Some folks describe a sort of utopian society where marketing and communications team/people/person totally get donor love and celebration but, sadly, that’s not something we see very often from our desks. Far too often, they are very focused on making the charity the hero.
And that’s a problem when we are talking to donors.
I don’t want you to think that I don’t care about people who buy tickets to your show, or the media who write about you in the paper, or the politicians that make decisions that affect your mission. You can do your whole “look at us and all the good we are doing in this world” song and dance.
But when you are talking to your donors, your fancy logo, your PMS colours and the complexities of your programs don’t matter.
But inspiring them to take action, showing gratitude for their previous gifts, showing them a new side of an issue or cause that is very dear to their hearts, rewarding them for their time and attention and speaking to them as specifically as possible — that’s fundraising marketing at its best.