Fundraising Marketing vs. Communications
Remember that course in marketing communications we took in school? Back then, it was understood that, in that phrase, marketing was the adjective that described the type of communication we were studying.
But somewhere between school and our fundraising careers, the ideas of marketing and communications often become intertwined. And unfortunately, they often begin to be perceived as more or less the same thing. That's how you end up with departments called "marketing and communications," "marketing/communications" or even (yikes!) "mar-comm."
Fundraising marketing and fundraising communications may live in the same house, but they are as different from each other as the kitchen is from the bedroom. For example:
Communications informs; marketing inspires
Direct-marketing fundraising and communications are different, but interdependent: Helping others in some way is the core mission of most nonprofits. But helping only happens when open-eyed realists take rational actions, make strategic plans, confront challenges with workable tactics and, of course, efficiently manage the resources that make it all possible.
However, getting people to provide that money in the first place is a whole different animal. Donors and prospects don't give because they admire your strategic approach to problem solving. They give to help a mother and her children find sanctuary and a hot meal. They give to help a shivering puppy find a home.
They want and need to be addressed in a personal, deeply human way. Motivating them to give their own resources to help your organization means appealing to their emotions. You're encouraging them to perform an irrational act. That means you've got to take hold of their heartstrings and keep tugging until they are genuinely grateful for the opportunity to help you.
You capture their attention with a compelling teaser or a strong lead. Then you guide them carefully and inexorably along an increasingly emotional path until their only emotional release is to help you by making a gift.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.