A pack of wild dogs gets rebranded

Here’s a delightful story of the power of words to change the world by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof: Every (Wild) Dog Has Its Day.

Painteddog

It’s about the work of Painted Dog Conservation, which used to have the painful task of protecting African wild dogs, but now has a much nicer focus: painted dogs.

It’s just marketing. But that’s the power of marketing:

If clever marketing and strategic thinking can take reviled varmints such as “wild dogs” and resurrect them (quite justly) as exotic “painted dogs” to be preserved, then no cause is hopeless.

I know a lot of nonprofits that, faced with a situation like this would stick to the name “wild dogs” like limpets, cultivating a sneering disdain for people who don’t “get it” about the wild dogs. They’d try to educate everyone in Earth that a “wild dog” is a beautiful, noble creature, not at all how it sounds.

Of course, you can’t change that many minds that much. You can’t even reach that many people.

But these guys did an end run around the problem. Instead of trying to change the entire world’s impression of “wild dogs,” they changed the game. Rather than expend their limited resources on bringing the mountain to Mohammed, they did the much more achievable — took Mohammed to the mountain.

Do you have seemingly unsolvable problems that may have simple answers?

Whether “painted dogs” catch the imagination of enough people remains to be seen. But a glowing New York Times article is a great start.


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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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