Last week a mailer arrived soliciting contributions to an apparently worthwhile cause. While debating my gift, I noticed their brochure used gold ink and very glossy pictures.
It struck me that too much was being spent on this non-profit’s marketing materials. For me, the money should be going to the cause they’re supporting.
My years in Washington DC, layered atop a decade in NY City and a career in marketing, has left me somewhat cynical. Whether charitable requests come by email, phone, or mail, my default position is to suspect a potential scam.
By their very nature, scammers adopt W.C. Fields’ philosophy “Never give a sucker an even break.” Knowing this, I pay attention to a charity’s marketing materials to see whether my contribution is just paying for more marketing.
That’s when I turned to Guidestar.org for additional information.
Guidestar tracks non-profits and their spending habits. It’s a free resource that reveals if you’re supporting a cause or merely lining the pockets of the people running the operations. It’s a valuable tool when you consider all the shysters trying to separate you from your charitable donations.
Managing a charity’s image can sometimes be tricky. Appear successful and folks will want to be associated with you, but appear too successful and they’ll figure the next guy needs it more.
Furthermore, you shouldn’t kid yourself; people pay attention to details. If the executive director is seen driving a BMW, donors may assume she’s being paid too much of THEIR money.
In an age of hyper-partisanship, where every detail (real or imagined) threatens to become public, it’s more important than ever for charitable organizations to appear squeaky clean. Use your marketing to maintain a steady presence before your audience and show maximum support for the cause, not the administration.
And recognize that people are watching you carefully at every turn to confirm their money’s going to the right place.
Because if I’m looking to support runaway kids, only to later learn my money bought a house in Spain, I’m going out of my way to tell everyone I know you’re a thief.
I’m funny like that…and I’m not the only one who feels that way.
With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
Get branding help for your non-profit at www.marketbuilding.com.