Red, blue or bland. Why you need to differentiate yourself in your case for support.

Years ago, I bought a birthday card. On the face of the card was a colony of penguins. The birds all looked alike, except one. One was bright, blisteringly red. The greeting read something like: Happy birthday to a rugged individualist.

Case for support and positioningWhat does this have to do with the case for support? It begs the question, to what degree does your case for support stand out and to what degree is it being noticed? Is it the red penguin or one of the many in the background?

Positioning is a foundational marketing concept that centres on identifying and demonstrating how you—the cause and/or the organization—are different from like causes and like organizations and why that position matters in the marketplace.

Let’s say you are working for an organization that funds well-water projects in Africa. Yours is one of dozens of organizations with a similar mandate. So, why should a donor give to your organization? How are you different? Maybe you are the sole organization that is active in a geographical location that has a particularly urgent need. Maybe you are using superior technology that enables you to be exceptionally efficient. Maybe the strength of your volunteers reduces operating costs. The point here is to think about what sets you apart and share it with your donors. How are you the red penguin?

Being different is not enough. You need to show why the difference matters. An organization that raises funds to help families who have a problem with moss in their lawn is different, all right. But who cares? That’s a ridiculous example to demonstrate a point. A less absurd and more common example is differentiation by longevity. While being ‘in business’ since 1973 says something to a donor, it is a weak lead position to take unless you can demonstrate how past performance will affect future performance. The point here is to know why being the red penguin is important.

And lastly, set yourself apart visually (that is if you are publishing your case for support). I know, it is comfortable to blend in, but the point of marketing is to stand out and be noticed. So, take a deep breath and let the visual presentation be arresting in a way that will set you apart from the crowd and speak to your donors. Embrace your redness. Flaunt it.

So, how is your organization red and why is being red important?

The links below take you to sites with advice on how to write a positioning statement:

 

Make a great case for your cause!

Febe Galvez-Voth
http://www.febegalvezvoth.com
http://www.thecaseforsupport.com

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Why not you? A lesson for fundraisers from Russell Wilson’s dad.

I was one of the 100 million people who watched the Super Bowl last weekend. I am not a football fan, but it was quite the event so I joined my husband on the couch. My big takeaway was hearing Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, talk about his dad, who used to inspire his son by saying, Why not you, Russell? The idea was that someone is going to get the top grade, Why not you? Someone is going to get the scholarship, Why not you? Someone’s going to be the quarterback for the team that wins the Super Bowl, Why not you?The Case for Support & Why not you?

Apply Mr. Wilson Sr.’s thinking to your cause and your case for support and the narrative sounds like this: Someone is going to get the big donation, Why not your organization? Someone is going to receive the grant, why not your organization? Someone is going to attract the volunteer leaders who have influence in your community, Why not you? Someone is going to develop that case for support that will lead the team to success, Why not you? Continue reading

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Tips on how to message a fundraising gala

Tips on how to message a fundraising galaWith gala season around the corner, I am re-publishing a post from last year on how to message a gala. 

The other day, a client asked me for tips on how to message a gala. Since we are approaching gala season, I thought I’d share my reply here with you.

Every gala is different. So instead of giving you advice and specifics that may not be useful for your organization, I will share my approach.

Gala messaging is not about reinventing the wheel. It is about expressing an already strategically, thought-through case for support to a specific group of individuals.

I keep the message real by developing it with real people in mind, Continue reading

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Donors not getting it?

Are you frustrated by donors who don’t give to the degree you think they could or should or who just don’t seem to get it?

In the post Are you trying to improve your donors? blogger Jeff Brooks says that it is the organization that needs to improve, not the donors. He writes: Case for Support_Donors not getting it?

They (donors) have no responsibility whatsoever to get onto our wavelength. It’s our responsibility to win them over.

Complaining about your donors will do your cause no good. Continue reading

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The kids are coming home.

I don’t know about you, but I am enjoying this season. There is anticipation in the air. The kids are coming home. Woo hoo. There are gifts under the tree. There’s baking in the freezer and we’re spending more time visiting with friends and family that we usually do.Case for Support and Christmas

So, I’ve been thinking, where is the lesson for the case for support in this season? Is it how to make your cause stand out amongst other causes? Is it how to get your donors attention amidst the busyness? How to get the most out of your year-end appeal? Those are good questions to address this season, but the case lesson I keep coming back to is wrapped up in our need and desire to be in relationship. Continue reading

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How are you saying thank you?

I’ve noticed something about what makes a thank you message stick in the heart of this case for support writer and donor. Let me explain.

I participated in a strategic planning session awhile back. The facilitator, a super smart woman, had made a donation to the charity that was in planning mode. She reported back that the organization had promptly followed up with a tax receipt and a thank you email. Check. Check. Very nice.Saying thanks: Case for Support

Some organizations have a policy that anyone who makes a donation of $250 or more gets a phone call from their relationship manager. If the gift is large enough the phone call comes from the executive director or a board member.

These are good strategies.

As a donor, I have received phone calls from charities. At the end of some calls I feel terrific about being invested in the organization’s work. The exchange feels authentic and sincere. But with other organizations I can almost picture the relationship manager crossing my name of a list at the end of the call. Check. The strategy was executed, but not a lot of connection was made.

The thing I’ve noticed about giving and receiving thanks has to do with putting purpose before plan. Continue reading

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The secret ingredient in a great story & how to get my mother’s attention.

Last Friday night I had dinner with a girlfriend. The leaves swirled past the windows, while inside my friend’s home we warmed ourselves with good wine, good food and great conversation. I arrived at 5:30 p.m. and, all of a sudden, it was 10:40 p.m. The conversation was that good. What made it so? We talked about things we both cared about. There is the secret to a good story: make it about something the hearer cares deeply about and you will have their attention.Storytelling and Case for Support

The temptation is to make the stories in our cases for support about the organization and the good work it does. When we do this we miss what a psychologist calls the ‘self-interest’ element. A marketer calls it the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor. We all come to the table with self interest. That is how we are wired as human beings. It’s true whether we are skimming a newspaper, learning that a storm is in the forecast or hearing a story about a remarkable charity. We tune out the things that don’t affect us and tune in to the things that do. Continue reading

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Why you need to start with the story, not the facts.

Many people begin to make the case for their cause (their case for support) by presenting facts. A good case needs to be factual. Many people support their facts with a story. A good case needs a good story or two or three. No argument there.

The problem is in the sequence.

Image from wikimedia

Image from wikimedia

Facts need a home. They need to slot into something. If we begin with the facts they will slot into the beliefs and ideas—the stories about the world—that the donor believe to be true. Some of those stories may align to your facts, but others may not. Here’s what I mean:

  •  If you embrace the story that homeless people are lazy, you will interpret facts about homelessness and mental illness as excusatory and baseless.
  • If you embrace the story that government, i.e. your tax dollar, will pay for critical medical equipment, you will dismiss facts about urgent needs and lack of funding. Continue reading
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Need a good vision story?

“A man came upon a construction site where three people were working. He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man answered, “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man answered, “I am building a wall.” He walked up to the third man, who was humming a tune as he worked and asked, “What are you going?” and the man stood up and smiled and said, “I am building a cathedral.” If you want to influence others in a big way, you need to give them a vision story that will become their cathedral.” — Annette Simmons in The Story Factor.

Uppsala Domkyrka (Cathedral). Photo by Mark Wilson: Wikimedia commons

Uppsala Domkyrka (Cathedral). Photo by Mark Wilson: Wikimedia commons

We can assume from the story that all three men were bricklayers. The difference is how they understand their role, their contribution and the significance of their involvement. Notice how the third man was humming and smiling. Continue reading

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How what you don’t see can hurt you.

My husband and I enjoy being outdoors. On weekdays we walk a loop around Crescent Beach (near Vancouver, BC) and on weekends we go a little further afield, often to the North Shore Mountains. Awhile back, we walked a trail that connects South Surrey and Tsawwassen. Once the path veers away from the highway, it becomes peaceful and pretty as it hugs the shoreline. On that particular day, we walked for about an hour and a half before we turned around. www.thecaseforsupport.com

I was struck by how different the path looked when viewed from the opposite direction. I saw the path from a different perspective. There were plants and trees I hadn’t noticed when I was pointing north. Most startling to me: I had missed seeing an entire pier that had washed up on the shore. It was badly damaged, but it was there, and I had missed it. Continue reading

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