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Charity fundraising and marketing truths (or not)


I was reading the tweets from the very useful @marketingdonut team and was pleased to see them share  renowned marketing expert Drayton Bird’s “35 things I have found to be almost always true”.  I was pleased to see it again as I didn’t get the chance to add to the list from a not-for-profit perspective… something I aim to put right below for the most impactful of Mr Bird’s points:

  1. Relevance matters more than originality – 100% agree but originality tends to get more cut-through than cliché
  2. The most important element in any creative endeavour is the brief – ie; the robust thinking that went into it and how the organisation can articulate that to an outsider
  3. The urgent takes precedence over the important – but a mixture of both is likely to be the right thing to do (if your plans are robust, that is)
  4. The customer you want is like the customer you’ve got – so true… but as well as the new types of donor, volunteer or supporter, not instead of!
  5. The internet is just accelerated direct marketing – I think it’s more than DM these days.  Perhaps it’s just a hugely powerful means to achieving a whole raft of objectives (including traditional direct marketing)?
  6. Emotion matters more than logic – it’s a fine balance but we do know that the two working in tandem are hugely powerful and nearly always more successful in the long run
  7. The simple letter or email gives the best ROIhappy to be proved wrong but I tend to agree… this doesn’t mean short or dumbed-down by the way
  8. Segmentation is almost invariably worth it – anyone else tired of being sent freebie address labels or receiving phone calls well into the evening when these aren’t our preferences?
  9. It pays to say thank you – don’t think any charity could disagree
  10. Marketers are suckers for magic bullets – not just marketers; senior managers could be added to this!  There is no magic bullet, Foundations do not have lots of big cheques to write and corporate are not bottomless money pits
  11. Marketing experts complicate things needlessly – agreed!  Marketing is a set of tools to be used to reach your objectives, not an end in itself.  That said, it does require some thinking and expertise to get the best value out of it!  Just not a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.
  12. Few marketers use enough testimonials – charity much better than the commercial world at this.  It’s all about the outcomes and less about the process so testimonials are rightly used – but it has to be the right testimonial.  It needs to tell the story most relevant to the audience, not just a good story
  13. Almost all meetings waste time – oh dear, I wish this weren’t as true as I fear it is
  14. Flattery and greed are the two biggest draws – I think the charity world needs to add guilt and empathy ie; heartstrings  (whether we like it or not, they are hugely powerful emotional triggers)
  15. Sincerity always pays – something charity communications have been on top of for a while.  But we do need to take note of audiences’ cultural differences as sincerity is not the same thing to every group.
  16. Few messages ask forcefully enough for action – fundraising messages generally do but not so many brand or awareness campaigns follow suit.  Every message should incorporate an ‘ask’ for an action
  17. The more you communicate, the better you do – which is why charity marketing and communications should be coordinated, consistent and frequent; regardless of which team or department is responsible
  18. Research rarely predicts results accurately – this means charities need to stop running scared of calculated risk!

The full 35 can be found over on the Market Donut blog.

What do you think?

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