Nonprofit Marketing: Too Slick?

A new report just out from Public Agenda is called "The Charitable Impulse."  It’s subtitle is "Those who give to charities–and those who run them–talk about what’s needed to keep the public’s trust."

I’ll be looking at this more closely in the days ahead. Just a quick glance at the summary reveals one very important issue for nonprofit marketers: the gap in perception between small donors and nonprofit leaders relating to certain fundraising and marketing techniques.

Many of the small donors interviewed for the report pointed to what they considered to be slick, inappropriate, or wasteful practices of nonprofit organizations, including "highly-polished direct mail campaigns, telemarketing, unsolicited premiums, multiple or duplicated appeals in a short period of time."

The report says the small donors also disliked nonprofits acting like "businesses" and "selling" to people.

On the other hand, the Public Agenda report says that very few nonprofit leaders interviewed for the study "focused on the problems raised by small donors and other research among the public, that is, the growth of slick marketing techniques and the possibility that they are alienating donors…"

Wow!  That gap is a very pointed and complicated issue.  Who among us has not ever seen an example of slick marketing materials from an organization that otherwise presents itself, usually rightly, as in desperate need of the public support?

And who among nonprofit marketers hasn’t felt the need and pressure to ensure that their organization’s materials look snappy, well-conceived and "professional"?  (Not to mention the fact that producing "polished" marketing materials is more affordable than ever.)

I’ll have a lot more to say about this soon. In the meantime, here’s a link to a short article I wrote in the past called "Six Proven Ways to Strengthen Your Organization’s Through Building Your Brand."

Certainly, the perceptions of small donors, as outlined in the Public Agenda report, need to be considered when engaging in brand-building activities for your nonprofit.

Are you Getting Attention?

Nancy Schwartz on October 24, 2005 in Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments

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