Do your communications to your donors and prospective donors reflect what they love most about your organization???
My colleague and recent What Gives Philanthropy guest blogger, Kimberly Elworthy, and I were having a conversation about our respective university experiences and how much we had enjoyed them. Both working in alumni relations-esque positions, we went on to discuss whether we felt that the alumni communications we received reflected that experience.
As an educational fundraiser, I know how powerful a tool nostalgia is when engaging alumni in the life of your institution, as well as when soliciting gifts. If an alumnus is going to make a donation, they have to care. We’d like to assume they care because they attended the institution, but can we make that assumption? Perhaps they’re 20+ years removed from their graduation. Assuming they had a great experience, can they still recall that? Or, is their perception of the university based entirely on their alumni experience now? And, if so, does that make their perception of the university positive?
I think these issues apply to whatever fundraising you’re doing. Are you creating a strong brand for your organization? Is that brand based on what’s considered to make up a powerful brand these days, or is it authentic? Hopefully it can be both, but my feelings are that it needs to start out as authentic. The people who are engaged in your organization care about your cause for a reason. To keep them engaged, and to engage more people, they must feel their experience and passion reflected in your branding. Otherwise, that dreaded “institutional voice” will overpower your authenticity, and when you don’t seem authentic, donors get skeptical. Don’t let that happen to you!
Written by Maeve Strathy
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.