Jennifer Miller  ●  9/11/2017

An Open Letter to Fundraising and Branding

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Dear Fundraising and Branding,

It seems like the nonprofit universe is constantly atwitter about your compatibility. Prevailing opinions seem to think you don’t get along. Others see your potential together.

Some say that you, Branding, are all about mass-consumption packaging and frothy lightness. Fundraising, you typically are all about need and specificity.

If you two met on a date, you’d have some hurdles. Branding would probably show up with perfect hair, a pressed suit, and matching accessories. Fundraising would have a ponytail, a T-shirt and jeans, and sandals. That’s because branding is about perception. And fundraising is about need.

Have I got that right?

Admittedly, that’s a simplified way of looking at your relationship. But there’s an even simpler truth here: You two not only CAN get along, you should. Because, in the end, you can really help each other.

Consider some new research TrueSense Marketing has commissioned exploring donor views on cancer centers. One finding showed a shockingly low level of donor familiarity with their local cancer center. Over a third of donors surveyed had given money, but still did not feel very familiar with the organization.

When’s the last time you gave money to an organization you didn’t know much about? Exactly.

For most donors, giving can’t take place without familiarity. What can bridge the gap? You can, Branding.

And Fundraising — you can ensure you’re consistently including visuals and messaging that resonate through tactics like emotionally compelling stories. That means ditching those big statistics that make problems seem unsolvable.

Branding, you can be the fundraiser’s friend. Fundraising, you can be the branding guru’s friend.

See that? You two can get along and help each other after all. (And you don’t have to waste money on mediation to do it!) But let’s be honest. This relationship takes work. Every relationship does. You should expect and prepare for it.

For example, you can’t get caught up in your own packaging (I’m talking to you, Branding). Sometimes you peddle in hard-to-read fonts, colors that don’t incite action, and photos of happy, healthy people that show there’s no problem to solve. That really bothers Fundraising.

There will be plenty of tests of your relationship, too. Sometimes it might seem like you’ll never come to an agreement. Isn’t there common ground here? Yes, there is. It’s the donor.

We want the donor to believe in you, Branding. When Fundraising comes along — and when it works the way it should — it’s an opportunity for the donor to express those beliefs. And to give. And when Fundraising proves the connection and impact of that gift, it affirms and supports the brand. That’s when your relationship will really sing!

So thank you, Branding, for helping donors become familiar with you and for creating positive feelings.

And thank you, Fundraising, for shining a light on the need and allowing the donor to be the hero by taking a specific action to solve a specific problem.

You two have more in common than you realize!

P.S. I must also thank you, dear donor, for bridging the gap between Branding and Fundraising — these two feisty but well-meaning forces. Your decisions are the reason they’re so passionate. My deepest appreciation for always bringing that truth to light.


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