Strength + Simplicity in Fundraising

Early last week, Katie introduced us to the importance of a strong brand; this week, Steve shared how the Church can struggle with staying on message. Now, we’ll look at how a strong, well-established brand can simplify fundraising and connect donors to your mission.


When you’re working to raise money for a cause, having an already-engaged audience that knows your mission offers you three main benefits:


  1. You save time (and energy).

  2. You tell better stories.

  3. Your donors feel connected to the outcome.

1. You save time (and energy).


If you could generate one thing out of thin air, what would it be? Chances are, “more time” might be a top answer for you and your team. With a strong, well-established brand in place, you can save time and use less space in your solicitation materials to introduce your brand to your reader. Think of the last “ask” letter or email that you read. In it, how much time was spent talking about the organization’s mission, impact and case for support?


The core of an “ask” letter is the invitation to give. Too often, that invitation gets lost in the weeds - or worse, it falls to the fifth paragraph. To counter this, plan a mini-awareness push in the weeks leading up to a mail drop or webathon. Target the same people you will be asking for a gift, reminding them of your brand identity. This helps reignite their spark of passion for your mission. When the solicitation letter arrives - with a strong ask - they’ll be ready to give.


2. You tell better stories.


A strong brand is like a good piece of theme music - it enhances the storytelling, without pulling focus. Think of an iconic soundtrack, like Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Game of Thrones (anything by Ramin Djawadi or John WIlliams, really). In each case, there’s a main theme, repeated across multiple films in a wide variety of arrangements* and tempos. It helps establish the mood and atmosphere. Your brand can be a strong, main theme that sets the tone for the communication. Align the case for support with the brand identity, and then focus your time and energy on sharing the stories of how your mission or ministry has impacted real people’s lives. From there, talk about how the donor’s gift makes a difference. The strongest stories revolve around a single, central theme.


3. Your donors feel connected to the outcome.


With a strong brand in place, and compelling stories to reveal your mission in action, your donors feel more connected when they make a gift. For some, your fundraising campaign isn’t just a way to build their philanthropic portfolio - it’s an expression of their own identity. They make a gift to help express who they are, how their priorities are aligned, and how they help make the world a better place. A strong brand identity invites people to engage with your mission, and take ownership for the outcomes.



Overall, having a strong brand lets you and your team work smarter, not harder. Flexibility and partnership between a development staff and a communications team may even create space for more innovative thinking to emerge. A team that is building from strength to strength has more time - and energy - to spark ingenuity.



TL;DR - Run a mini-awareness campaign before fundraising, tell great stories, and let donors use your mission to express themselves.


 

*So much so, that when the much-anticipated teaser for Jurassic World dropped in 2014, it consisted of 21 seconds of the iconic, eight-note theme played on an unaccompanied piano.

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