Generating awareness for your nonprofit is good. Generating awareness that impacts the bottom line is better. When you strategically link your marketing, advertising and fundraising, you leverage their impact. It’s not hard, but it requires thinking ahead and coordinating resources. Why settle for one result – awareness – when you can secure awareness and revenue?
Here’s our suggestion. Take the time to schedule your awareness, marketing and advertising so they are timed to occur before, during and after a specific fundraising event or campaign. Activities scheduled in advance create awareness. These can include billboards, house parties, letters to the editor, feature stories, and print, TV or internet advertising. They bring your nonprofit to the forefront of a potential donor’s mind, at least momentarily. When closely timed to coordinate with an actual solicitation, your organization is already top-of-mind with potential donors when they are asked to make a gift.
People are bombarded with information, so be strategic. Place your advertising so it runs during the time you want people to give. If your fundraising includes a 45-day or 90 day intensive phase, then run your advertising before, during and after to get the maximum effect.
Here’s an example. Billboards, news stories and full-page magazine advertisements promoting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital make it easier for us to say “yes” when asked to attend an event, make a small gift via point-of-sales donation when shopping, or make a larger family or business gift. The same is true of the United Way. Their awareness, marketing and advertising culminates in early fall so we are aware of the many ways the United Way impacts our community by the time their workplace giving campaigns launch.
Consider deploying the same strategy when your nonprofit is considering a direct-mail, online or personal solicitation campaign. Run the awareness, marketing and advertising prior to the campaign. After the campaign launches, run another series of advertisements to keep your nonprofit on the top of people’s minds. Running the advertising in February and dropping your direct mail in late spring doesn’t have the same effect. The activities have to be tied closely together. Even if the advertising is free. It is still a resource and you want to use resources strategically.
You also need to know your audience. You may want to consider advertising that speaks directly to the different prospective donors you want to solicit. The message and methods used to communicate with young professionals will differ from those used with people over 60. Messages used with individuals often differ from those used with corporations or foundations.
The bottom line: impact your bottom line by using awareness, marketing advertising resources in a strategic way to influence your fundraising.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help nonprofit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of “How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors.” Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call 522-8727.