Marketing Essentials

Marketing & Media, Tim Oleary

I took a course recently at Cornell University called Marketing Your Brand Through Social Media. We talked about the disruption of emerging technologies, evolving channels, and complex communication. And yet, it became clear to all of us there that some things haven’t changed at all… the fundamental questions still driving what we do.

  1. Who are our donors?
  2. What do they want?
  3. How can we do a better job than other organizations of satisfying those desires?

That’s really it. Sounds simple, right?  Well, we all know how easily the fundamentals get lost in mass fundraising as opposed to a personalized, one-to-one approach.

So, begin with #1. Do we truly know our donors and everything about them?  Not even close.  We may have their giving history, some basic demographics, and so on.  But to truly know your donors, we have to understand what motivates them to give to your mission and others, what are their lifestyles like, and how do they prefer to communicate with you

Then comes #2. What social (and emotional) return on investment are you offering them?  Why you and why them?  Are you where your donors like to be?

Finally, #3. How can they see the impact of their gift?  Are you thanking them properly, accurately, and often?  How well are you convincing them to give again?

None of this diminishes the power of social media to do much of the work above. Same story with market research. But my point here is that we now live in a world where fundraising relationships are circular, not linear. Gone are the days when we simply push out fundraising messages and gather only checks in return.  Donors want to be more engaged and involved, even if that is just through discussion.

Media disruption, then, isn’t an unsettling complication. It’s an amazing opportunity to build on our donor relationships. Where even the gloomiest retention rates can be turned around by a serious look at these three marketing and fundraising essentials.