Don't Rob Peter to Pay Paul
If you’re cultivating a major donor through personal contact, there should be ample opportunity to explain the special campaign’s unique features and make the case for continued operations support. But with mid-level and smaller donors, you’ll have to rely on great writing and design to explain the difference when there’s little or no personal contact.
If your special-campaign materials are written and designed just like your regular appeals, they might get lost in the shuffle. That’s where my school went wrong: All the materials for the campaign looked just like its everyday donor communications.
… but make it the same
Before you get excited about using that wacky new typeface or color, there also are risks when you brand that campaign too distinctively. If you go too far, donors won’t recognize that it’s you, and new prospects to your organization won’t be building their recognition and familiarity with your core brand.
“Project Catalyst is our first major-donor capital campaign. We wanted the case statement and other materials to let our existing donors know that this was different — and a big deal,” says Kimberly Galberaith, vice president of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a New York City-based nonprofit organization founded by parents of children with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy. “At the same time, we wanted new donors to be learning just as much about us as they were Project Catalyst.”
The solution: The Project Catalyst campaign has a unique logo, but it’s in the same color as the organization’s logo. All Project Catalyst materials reflect and support Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy’s existing brand.
Building the brand
A strong brand can create a platform on which all communications about the organization will be built. It can create name recognition, generate income and establish credibility swiftly and elegantly. A poorly developed brand communicates instability, a lack of professionalism and a tendency to be ‘penny-wise, pound-foolish.’ All organizations have a brand, whether they admit it or not, and examining or changing it can be a painful process. It requires time, money, staff and board participation, and lots of patience.