I Hate Fundraising When…

December 7, 2010

Tis the holiday season! As winter approaches, nonprofit solicitations are swirling around me faster than snowflakes in a December blizzard.

Though I’m no Scrooge, I’ll admit that I hate fundraising when it is…

  1. Not relevant. The fact that you need money is not my problem. You won’t get a contribution from me by telling me how desperate you are. My advice: Make your case by explaining how my world will be a better place when I give to your cause.
  2. Based upon guilt or fear. If your cause is worthy of my support, don’t play mind games to manipulate my behavior. My advice: Make me feel smarter by investing in your organization.
  3. Not differentiating. Every nonprofit is aggressively raising money, especially this time of the year. Unless you can show me how your cause is the best investment in things I care about, you’re just making noise in an already noisy world. My advice: Focus on the unique niche that only you can fill.
  4. Coerced. If I’m forced to give, you may achieve a short-term result. Trust me, though:  I’ll forever resent being strong-armed and I will look for ways to distance myself from your organization at the earliest opportunity. My advice: Give me a choice and invite me to voluntarily join your team.
  5. Treated as an end objective. Fundraising is a means to an end. It’s purpose is to help an organization have adequate resources to fulfill its mission. A nonprofit does not exist to raise money, but rather it raises money so it can continue to exist. My advice: Talk more about your mission and less about how much money you need.
  6. More interested in my money than in me. If we don’t have a relationship, then I’m probably not going to give. Any farmer knows you cannot reap a harvest until you’ve planted the seed, nurtured the crop and waited patiently for nature to take its course. My advice: Give me ways to make philanthropy a natural expression of my relationship with your organization.


Day 1 – The Marketing Mission

October 12, 2010

Review the mission statement of the marketing department.

The first thing I do when confused or needing motivation is to ask myself, “Why I’m doing this? What’s the purpose? What is my mission?”

When I began working at the American Red Cross four years ago, I clarified the role of our marketing and communication function, articulating that our mission is to:

  1. Build and strengthen interactive relationships with key audiences.
  2. Increase community support of the local chapter.
  3. Generate revenue, both philanthropic and earned income.

Amidst the rush of our frenetic daily activities, that mission continues to anchor me and my team as we work on a variety of important projects.

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How Does Marketing Do It?

November 12, 2009

The mission of my marketing department, as described in a previous post, is to 1) build interactive relationships, 2) increase community support and 3) generate revenue. How do we actually do that?

My marketing team here at the American Red Cross accomplishes its work in these three steps: Read the rest of this entry »


Why Do We Need a Marketing Department?

November 10, 2009

As a marketing professional, I often ask myself why my organization needs marketing. Why does my marketing department exist? What impact do we really have?

Sometimes I think it would be fun to remake the classic movie A Wonderful Life so we could see what the world would look like had we never come into existence. What would the company look like if marketing never appeared on the organization chart? What would be lost if my marketing group “went out of business?”

Read the rest of this entry »


The Difference between Mission and Vision

October 8, 2009

A nonprofit CEO recently sent a question to my Facebook inbox. “I am trying to write a new mission statement and also to create a vision statement,” she said. “My problem is I am not sure what the difference is. My vision statements tend to look like mission statements. How are they different?”

Excellent question. She’s probably among a majority of business people who are confused about the two. Not knowing the difference contributes to foggy thinking and an incomplete vision. Here’s how I distinguish the two:

  1. A mission statement is present tense. It focuses on what your organization is today. It concentrates on the company’s current purpose and addresses why the business exists.
  2. A vision statement is future focused. It paints a picture of what you want the organization to become. It defines the new reality you hope to create in the future.

The mission and the vision should be complementary.

A mission statement should be differentiating and guide management in making day-to-day decisions about the company’s operations.

A vision statement, on the other hand, is usually more inspiring. Rightly done, it reflects the shared vision of the key stakeholders. It’s something everyone feels passionately about. People should rally around their vision, and it should compel them to work together on making that vision their new reality.


Marketing Manifesto II – Team Performance

October 1, 2009

Shortly after I stepped into my leadership role at the American Red Cross, a member of my marketing group chose not to be part of the new team.

Her departure gave me the opportunity to recruit someone new, so I spent considerable time thinking about how to forge a strong partnership between 1) the individuals I inherited and 2) those I would select myself.

In consultation with team members that remained, I developed this list of 10 characteristics to describe the commitment, the loyalty and the engagement of every contributing member of my marketing group:

  1. We are inspired by the mission of the marketing department, knowing that our special group exists to ensure the success of the American Red Cross.
  2. As we visualize the role of marketing within the organization, we are proud to be a part of an exceptional consulting team working on projects that really matter.
  3. We value diversity within our team, knowing that each of us makes a unique contribution to the department, to the organization and ultimately to the community.
  4. We build synergy whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In so doing, we recognize the interdependence of every member of the team.
  5. When one of us succeeds, that person appreciates and acknowledges the contributions of teammates, knowing that success is often a team effort.
  6. We celebrate when another member of the team excels. After all, we know that one teammate’s success reflects positively on our entire group.
  7. When something goes wrong, we avoid pointing fingers and assigning blame. Instead, we join hands with others to seek solutions and to look for the learning embedded within the situation.
  8. We assume positive intentions on the part of others. In circumstances where there is a potential for misunderstanding, we proactively seek clarification.
  9. We are loyal to other members of the team, especially in their absence. We focus on the positive, affirming attributes of our co-workers and teammates.
  10. We always operate from an abundance mentality that seeks win-win solutions. We refuse to believe that our win implies a loss for someone else, knowing that a scarcity mentality spawns fear, competitiveness and retaliation.

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