How to keep branding from killing fundraising

Why are the branding discipline and the fundraising discipline so often at odds within nonprofits? Aren’t they aimed at exactly the same goal of increasing an organization’s ability to do its work?

They should be. But time after time, branding decreases fundraising revenue.

That might not have to be so, and one way to improve that dismal situation would be to follow the advice in the Moving Thinking Blog at Brand vs Fundraising — 4 ways to prevent war.

Here are the four ways, with my comments:


  1. Keep fundraising at the heart. Fundraising isn’t the only thing you do in the marketing sphere. But if you’re reading this blog, it’s probably at or near the top of the list. When branding initiatives start or happen in silos separate from fundraising, they’ll usually go bad. So keep fundraising (the people and the discipline) in the same room and with the same authority as branding. Doing this is going to save you untold pain later on.
  2. Ensure the audience focus is right. Another reason branding so often hurts fundraising is that it’s aimed at making internal audiences feel good. If you want a brand that improves fundraising revenue, you’d better aim is squarely at your donors. Your real donors, not the fantasy donors your brand people claim they’re going to capture.
  3. Differentiate meaningfully. Almost every time branding people take on a nonprofit, they end up with Hope as the key brand value. That’s a value that can apply to almost any cause. It’s nice, but vague and unspecific. It’s a terrible thing to be saddled with if you want to raise funds. A brand that helps revenue is one that will zero in on your organization’s specifics.
  4. Test and adapt. Test is the key here. Focus groups are not valid tests. They will lead you astray if they’re your only source for what people think. Statistically valid, well-constructed direct-marketing tests will give you truths you can take to the bank.

(See also How a brand change will impact revenue: Real-life figures.)


Comments

4 responses to “How to keep branding from killing fundraising”

  1. “Statistically valid, well-constructed direct-marketing tests will give you truths you can take to the bank.”
    That’s true, Jeff – but only if your audience is a direct mail audience. If you don’t have a DM program or a DM audience, then it’s not possible or viable.

  2. “Statistically valid, well-constructed direct-marketing tests will give you truths you can take to the bank.”
    That’s true, Jeff – but only if your audience is a direct mail audience. If you don’t have a DM program or a DM audience, then it’s not possible or viable.

  3. Thanks for the mention Jeff. I fully concur of course!

  4. Thanks for the mention Jeff. I fully concur of course!

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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 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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