The Future of Nonprofit Marketing: "Hyperlocal, Hyperspecialized, Hyperrelevant"

It was August, and that meant time to create our dreaded Annual Report. I was working on one of my least favorite projects as a Development Director. I was worried that the content was pretty deadly, with the standard "Letter from the Chair" and pie charts of expenditures.Creating this and the rest of our publications was a painful, lengthy process. I also knew that no one would read it if it were boring.What to say and how to say it? This is the perennial challenge of nonprofit fundraisers. And we usually don't do a very good job in our attempts at "messaging."head-clickme2This morning I was reading marketing guru Seth Godin's blog and, as usual, he nailed this issue. He said this is where marketing is heading:"Big companies, non-profits and even candidates will discover (the best communications are) hyperlocal, hyperspecialized, hyperrelevant . . . this is where we are going."What he means is that people (donors) want to receive messages from their favorite nonprofits that are "anticipated, personal and relevant." And if the nonprofit marketing communication they are receiving fits these criteria, then they'll read it.If your letters, reports, brochures, invitations are not "anticipated, personal and relevant," then you are not going to be heard or read or paid attention to.How do we make our communications "hyperlocal?" By referring to something that is going on locally. Or that the reader is currently involved in.How about "hyperspecialized" - what does that look like? It means that the folks who attended your auction get special communications about how well the auction did and what you did with the funds raised.How about "hyperrelevant?" It means that donors who gave to help teach prison inmates to read get updates about that particular program.This is a tall order for nonprofit organizations with few fundraising resources. But focusing on your current donors, and sending them relevant information that they are actually interested in, can keep them involved and coming back for more.And that's the basis of our holy grail - a sustainable fundraising program, full of repeat donors who are enthusaistic and passionate advocates for your cause.

We're in the Dream Business

Do you ever consider what we fundraising folks are really up to when we appeal to our donors? Is it hype? Is it promises that we will keep? Is it mission, vision and values? Is it changing the world?Last month at the Bridge Fundraising Conference in DC, I kept hearing a theme echoing through many of the presentations I attended.MLK“We are in the dream business.”It really means that we are selling a happy dream of the future. Of a better world. A better community. People being helped. Smiles. Comfort. Happiness.But in our appeals for help, we forget this all too often. Instead we focus on problems, what's wrong, what we will do to fix things.But the most successful approach - whether you are doing fundraising, sales, bringing together groups of people for a common purpose, teamwork - whenever leadership and inspriation are required - is to picture your dream for the future.Think Martin Luther King, one of the greatest inspirational leaders - and orators - of recent times. His "I have a dream speech" is a spectacular example of inspired dreaming.The dream is so powerful that it's like a great river sweeping everyone up in its path, surging inevitably downstream to a much happier future.When we paint a picture of our dream for happy students, healthy children, cared-for elderly, majestic symphonies, clean sparkling water - whatever we are raising money for - we also capture the power of that mighty river of energy sweeping everyone together.When I work with boards, we talk about dreaming. I tell them they should always be standing high on the hill sharing their vision of a happier world with everyone they know. When they are standing on that hill, solid in their dream, focused on the future, they are more powerful than they can imagine.When you, your board members and your volunteers take a firm stand on the mountain, that's when you have the energy and the power to change the world.That's when nothing can stop you.