Dear Marketing Maven …
Back by popular demand, Marketing Maven is here to answer your questions about fundraising and other life challenges.
Dear Marketing Maven,
My donations are down, my heart is heavy and my job is on the line. Worse, I think I’m coming down with something. Paging Dr. Dollars!
— Sick in Syracuse
I don’t need a stethoscope to diagnose these ailments. You’re suffering from one or all of the three most common diseases in the nonprofit world. Sadly, they are at epidemic proportions. We’ve got to stop their spread!
No. 1: Field of Dreams Syndrome. Those who have this disease believe “if you build it, they will come.” By “they,” I mean a big team of generous donors. For example, if you have FODS, you think that if you build a Web site and stick a “Donate Now” button on it, donors will arrive and click. This disease also manifests itself as an assumption that uttering your mission statement will inspire people to give. If you find yourself saying, “If people only knew, they would … ” then you have FODS. Declaring your existence is not a fundraising campaign. It is a symptom of FODS.
The cure? You need to reach out to people and build relationships with them. Then maybe they’ll want to support you.
No. 2: It’s All About Usitis. Nonprofits suffering from this disease are easy to spot — their homepages, e-mails and all of their correspondence read like an “About Us” page. Sometimes, this ailment is called “Nonprofit Narcissism.” Your mission statement, the history of your organization and other related details should not be found everywhere and do not constitute a strong message.
The cure? Make it about your donors, not you. Why should they care? What can they accomplish? How have they changed the world with their support?