The “Double Play” That Will Bring Awareness to Your Nonprofit And Motivate People to Give

Date Published
Debbie Merlino

To be effective, both marketing and fundraising communications must engage their audiences and clearly communicate the mission of the organization. But marketing and fundraising have two distinct objectives

The goal of marketing communications is to build awareness.

The goal of fundraising communications is to generate revenue/donors.

So, it’s not necessarily what’s being communicated that differentiates marketing from fundraising communications; it’s more the how and the why that vary.

Marketing Communications:

  • Create awareness
  • Promote brand building
  • Institutional voice
  • Informational
  • Not time sensitive
  • No call to action
  • One to many relationship
  • “We / Us” language

Fundraising Communications:

  • Generate revenue / donors
  • Build the case for giving
  • Personal voice
  • Emotional
  • Discreet campaign timeframe / urgent
  • Strong call to action
  • One to one relationship
  • “You” language that makes the donor the hero

Marketing and fundraising are the “double play” that brings awareness to your nonprofit organization and motivates people to give.

Fundraisers and their colleagues in marketing benefit from active collaboration.  Fundraising appeals can be buoyed by effective marketing efforts; while marketers can glean an understanding about the stories and appeals that gain the most traction in the marketplace by asking fundraisers to share results – especially response rates.

If you’re a fundraiser, you probably already know that every appeal should answer the following three questions:

  • Why should I give?
  • Why should I give now?
  • What’s the consequence of not giving?

In building your case for giving, show your organization in action in a personal way that people can remember — like a story of a single individual or a client testimonial. Stories are an effective way to establish an emotional connection between your organization and the donor. Don’t skimp on the details!  It’s those memorable little morsels that will resonate with your reader. Avoid numbers and statistics. A cerebral case for your cause is less effective than a heartfelt story.

Are you concerned that the lines are blurred, and marketing language is finding its way into your fundraising communications?  Here are two quick tests you can do:

  1. Read your fundraising appeal or email copy. Does it sound like one individual communicating directly to one other person? If so, good start! If it sounds more like an institution or benevolent third party disseminating important information to a wider audience, you probably have some editing to do.
  2. Check for “you” vs “we” language. Circle the number of times the word “you” appears in your appeal compared to the number of times the words “we” or “us” are present. If there’s more “we” language than “you” language, then a rewrite to make the donor the hero is probably in order.

For an organization to thrive, effective marketing and fundraising communications are essential. You just can’t accomplish both goals in a single communication.

Debbie Merlino
About the Author:
Debbie Merlino
President, Agency Services

As President of Agency Services, Debbie is responsible for overall client satisfaction. She works to ensure AFG’s winning strategies are being shared throughout the organization for the benefit of all our clients. Debbie is frequently out on the road sharing insights with others and listening to your challenges so we can develop solutions.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I get to meet the best people and hear their stories. Hardly anyone says they planned to work in development. Learning how our clients found themselves in this profession and hearing the stories of the people they serve is inspirational.

If you weren’t at AFG, what would you be doing?

Attempting the life of a freelance journalist, working in a bookstore, and/or doing a podcast for my own enjoyment.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

Making people laugh. It’s thrilling! Especially when done purposefully and I’m on stage ; ) I also enjoy yoga and a well-crafted cocktail.

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