A slogan is not a fundraising campaign

I got this the other day in the mail from a local organization that I’m not a donor to. (I’ve hidden the identity, because it’s a local hard-working organization that really doesn’t deserve public ridicule.)

Wordnotsentence

“Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” Pretty clever. It might be a comfort to someone facing cancer, though I can’t help but think if I had cancer, I’d be saying I really don’t care about cancer in general; tell me about my cancer.

This is a case of sloganeering in lieu of fundraising. It’s a common error, caused by fundraisers mistakenly taking their cue from commercial brand advertising.

No matter how clever the slogan, it’s unlikely to work in fundraising. That’s because a slogan doesn’t involve donors in any way. It isn’t a call to action. (Theoretically, it could be, but it never is.)

A really good slogan might be resonant or memorable. It might make donors nod knowingly, or chuckle, or think I’ll have to show that to Phyllis. But it’s not a call to action, and that means not many people will take action. The best you can hope for is you have such a strong brand that people already have in mind to donate to you — so the fact that you fail to actually ask doesn’t matter; you’ll get responses nonetheless. Of course, a blank piece of paper would do just as well.

But a real fundraising piece that includes a call to action will do a lot better.

Next time someone shows you a clever slogan in lieu of a call to action, send ’em back to the drawing board. Fundraising is about action, not slogans.


Comments

6 responses to “A slogan is not a fundraising campaign”

  1. That looks like an outer envelope to me, in which case you could argue that the slogan is merely acting as a teaser to get the cold audience to just open the envelope, where they’ll find a personal letter containing a much more thought-through call to action?

  2. That looks like an outer envelope to me, in which case you could argue that the slogan is merely acting as a teaser to get the cold audience to just open the envelope, where they’ll find a personal letter containing a much more thought-through call to action?

  3. This is also the title of a book written for people diagnosed with cancer and the title of a number of presentations made by the medical community.

  4. This is also the title of a book written for people diagnosed with cancer and the title of a number of presentations made by the medical community.

  5. “Sloganeering” haha – brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I read almost all of your posts – you are Godin without the self-indulgence. Well done – I’ve found this very helpful.

  6. “Sloganeering” haha – brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I read almost all of your posts – you are Godin without the self-indulgence. Well done – I’ve found this very helpful.

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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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