I am the kind of person who genuinely likes helping others. If a friend needs a little help with their brand…done. If a friend needs a favor…no problem. If a prospect needs a service we don’t provide…I refer them to someone who does. And, when a non-profit asks for support, I do my best participate. Sometimes I am donating my time, sometimes it’s marketing support, and sometimes money. But, the latter is one that really frustrates me as a consumer and brand strategist.
Here’s the scenario: I send my annual donation to Susan G Komen. (I am not picking on them. They happen to provide a great example of my point.) What do I receive in the mail a few weeks later? An incredibly elaborate package containing full-color note cards, pretty little pink return address stickers, and a letter thanking me for my donation. The paper and printing are high quality. The package is oversized and heavy, which means postage $$$. And, they are requesting another donation. A few thoughts are going through my mind at this point.
- I was trying to HELP people with my donation.
- This is environmentally unfriendly.
- You are causing me anxiety because I don’t want to discard all of those little stickers for fear of identity theft.
- Guilt on two levels…I don’t want to make another donation right now AND I don’t want to throw your package away.
From a brand perspective, I am wondering why anyone would create all of those negative feelings about their brand? (Especially during times of economic stress.) My advice for non-profits? THINK about how your fundraising tactics could be creating a negative brand experience for supporters or potential supporters. ASK for their input about the tactics you are using to solicit donations. ASK how they prefer to receive communications and solicitation. This will not only help you avoid pitfalls, it will help deepen relationships and let donors know you care about how they feel. Lastly, be cautious of adopting the latest trend in fundraising. Just because it is popular, doesn’t mean it is good or effective. Remember that safeguarding your brand can really pay.