5 Ways Nonprofit Marketing and Fundraising Are Like PB&J
1. They require a thoughtful approach.
One to sandwich making; the other to facilitating philanthropy.
Think about it. When you decide to make a PB&J, you give thought to the type of ingredients you’ll add to the mix: Crunchy or smooth? Strawberry jam or grape jelly? What are you, or those for whom you’re creating this delight, in the mood for?
The same holds true for marketing and fundraising collaborations.
Always ask these questions before you create and disseminate any piece of marketing content:
• “What does the audience want?” (e.g. they support social justice)
• “What will particularly appeal to their taste at this moment in time?” (e.g. they’re concerned about issues currently in the news, like refugees… police… gender equality)
• “How big is their appetite for this specific concoction?” (e.g. they’re worried rights are in danger of being abrogated)
• “Will they consume this?” (e.g. they told us in a recent survey this was the topic of greatest interest to them)
Your creative efforts are best put to use when they’re informed by knowledge.
When your goal is to facilitate philanthropy, you must endeavor to create a sandwich that’s so yummy folks will put down money for it. This means marketing and fundraising staff must speak to each other. Both about goals and methods.
2. They complement each other.
Let’s say I, the fundraiser, want to raise money to produce a new play.
Rather than simply writing and mailing out an appeal cold, I talk to the marketing staff about warming up the crowd. I say: “What can we do via communications to set the table for the appeal we want to make?”
The marketer says to me: “What’s the play about? What are the underlying themes? What story does it tell? How might the playgoer feel after attending?”
Then we have a dialogue.
The marketer comes up with the following:
[Name of play] speaks to the importance of art, specifically art that speaks to the frailty we all share. This is a play that reminds us we’re not alone in the complex struggle that makes us human. It evokes empathy—something sorely needed in today’s world.
Or perhaps the marketer says to me: “We should consider surveying donors to see why they attend/don’t attend particular types of plays, movies and performances. What moves them to attend? What makes them feel the experience was worthwhile?”
Then the marketing staffer helps me, the fundraising staffer, develop a simple online survey to get a good read on what floats our donors’ boats.
It’s a collaboration. And a win/win.
Because everyone in an organization benefits when more money comes in the doors.
3. They stick together.
Fundraising and marketing go hand in hand.
As nonprofit social media expert Julia C. Campbell puts it:
“Effective marketing gets people’s attention, and successful fundraising keeps it. The two should be working together and not at cross-purposes, but they require completely different strategies and unique skillsets.”
While I may not quite agree that the skillsets are “completely different,” I do agree these folks absolutely must stick together.
Marketing staff are more likely to ask: “How can we get this message out to the widest number of people?” and “How can we refine this message to best grab folk’s attention and pique their interest?”
Fundraisers may more likely ask: What do donors need to see in terms of impact?” and “What keeps them giving year after year?”
Both are equally important.
4. One without the other is simply not as tempting.
Your “customers” (fundraisers think “donors”; marketers may think “clients,” “members,” “patients,” “students,” “buyers”) want to learn about what you do, but they don’t just want to hear about how great you are. Luckily, there are ways to merge promotion of your product or service with great value for your constituents.
A great way to begin is by taking to heart The Sales Lion’s (aka Marcus Sheridan's) philosophy:
They ask, you answer.
Don’t try to shove your standard, garden variety PB&J down their gullets. That’s a miserable experience. Tempt them with something they’re likely to really enjoy.
That’s the only way you’ll get them to open your content and read it.
Begin by brainstorming as a marketing/fundraising team about all the questions your prospective donors and customers ask, then answer those questions one by one.
• You take time to understand constituent needs.
• You are experts in this field.
• You think beyond yourself (i.e. your product/service) to all the other related issues your audience may care about.
Really think about the issues that concern your donors before beginning to develop your content.
Some answers may be simple. Perhaps a short blog post or video will do.
Other answers may be complex. You may need to offer some in-depth research, perhaps through a white paper or infographic to explain the results and their implications.
5. They’re a total package.
There’s little point to considering content creation without simultaneously considering content promotion.
How are your constituents best reached and moved?
Fundraising staff may tend to think mail and email. Marketing staff may think also about different social media channels that require different content marketing approaches and might attract broader and/or different audiences.
For example, your LinkedIn connections may want to hear about your research methodology. Your Pinterest audience may like seeing an infographic with a link back to a blog post. Your Instagrammers may respond better to a single, captivating photo. Your Twitter followers may enjoy a single quote, with a link back to a story on your website. And so forth.
To succeed, you need to channel the voice of your customers and speak their language.
As one content marketing expert shares:
“Your content and social media marketing programs will be more effective if they spring from and are led by the VoC [Voice of Consumer]. They should address customer needs and interests and truly be interesting, educational, useful or fun.”
Donors may want different things than potential buyers. So it makes little sense for fundraisers to completely hand over marketing communication strategy to another department. They’re a total package.
You can’t “unstick” the peanut butter from the jelly.
Which is why I’ve been a broken record for years on the need to integrate fundraising and marketing.
A multichannel approach to nonprofit marketing, offering a tasty variety of different content types across multiple platforms, enhances your overall branding and increases the likelihood your message will be received, remembered and, ultimately, acted upon—not just by one potential constituent, but by all of them.
Now you’ve built a yummy sandwich that will have universal appeal!
Yay you! Your thoughts?
If you like craft fairs, baseball games, art openings, vocal and guitar, and political conversation, you’ll like to hang out with Claire Axelrad. Claire, J.D., CFRE, will inspire you through her philosophy of philanthropy, not fundraising. After a 30-year development career that earned her the AFP “Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year” award, Claire left the trenches to begin her coaching/teaching practice, Clairification. Claire is also a featured expert and chief fundraising coach for Bloomerang, She’ll be your guide, so you can be your donor’s guide on their philanthropic journey. A member of the California State Bar and graduate of Princeton University, Claire currently resides in San Francisco.