Three Smart Marketing Strategies for Non-Profits to Catch the Attention of Funders


Last week I attended Youth, I.N.C.’s 5th Annual Venture Forward Conference, hosted by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, attended by development staff from youth oriented non-profits. In his workshop “MARKETING: Breaking through the Noise”, I picked up the following tactics from Nathan Havey, Founder & CEO of Thrive Consulting Group:

An age-old fable can be consulted for a fundraising approach. You’ll recognize the story: our hero is an everyday person in a broken world; she would fix it if she could, but she is powerless; she is approached by a mentor and told she is the one who can save it all. In this video, an organization called The Girl Effect makes the viewer the hero, and appeals to them for funding. It’s moving and intriguing.

This video, which documents how one organization’s campaign, in a last ditch effort to save their local library and fend off Tea Party backlash, launched a fake book-burning party to draw attention to their otherwise unnoticed cause. In this case, creating enraged controversy, however fake, worked in their favor to bring positive attention to their cause. The video is inspiring.

If folks can see proof that others are giving to a certain cause, or joining a certain movement, they will join as well. The same psychology that makes us mirror each other’s body language makes us give to trending charities: consciously and subconsciously, we want to feel connected and involved with the people in our communities and in the world. The opposite is true too; if people perceive a lack of activity, they will assume there is a good reason behind it, and they won’t give.

Have you taken calculated risks in your marketing tactics? What strategies have you seen used? What were the results?

Blogpost by Michael Curtin, Teaching Artist