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Marketing versus philanthropic marketing

by The NonProfit Times - October 22, 2013

Given enough time, most people could come up with a valid definition of philanthropic marketing. Nonprofit managers know what philanthropy is, and they know marketing.

During the 2013 Bridge Conference, Sara Stern of Lipman Hearne offered this possibility: Philanthropic marketing is the right messages, prepared and presented in the right formats, to meet the interests of donors and key influencers.

Then she deleted the entire definition and offered this one: Giving people a reason to part with money and feel good about it.

Philanthropic marketing is philanthropic messaging, and that messaging is what must trigger people to part with their hard-earned money, and to feel good about while they are giving and afterward as well. Stern said there are four key questions that a potential donor will ask:

  • Why this organization?
  • Why these projects?
  • Why now?
  • Why me?

More than that, however, Stern said, philanthropic messaging must do the following:

  • Trigger emotion;
  • Generate a sense of momentum and excitement;
  • Tell stories (relatable, repeatable and surprising);
  • Equip brand evangelists to be successful;
  • Thank and celebrate donors; and,
  • And during a campaign, show that the campaign is not business as usual.


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