Tag Archives: Fundraising

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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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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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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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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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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Tips on how to name (frame) your case for support.

What’s in a name? If it is the name of your case for support, there should be a lot in it. It’s a frame and a sign that sits on the most valuable real estate of a document, the cover. And it’s a frame and a sign of your most valuable document, your case for support. You want to use it strategically.nameing / framing your case for support

A sign, like a traffic sign, gives specific information about what to expect: Watch out for falling rocks, and it points to something: This way to Naramata. Like a sign, a name or title of a case should give specific information about what to expect and point the reader to a destination, i.e. their role in helping realize a vision or the promise embedded in a mission.

We can also think about a case title as a frame that puts boundaries and applies focus around specific content. It shows us what to look at. What’s in, what’s out, what’s important. The name of a case for support tells a reader about the content and helps them know what to look at and look for. And like a frame around a work of art, it enhances–decorates–the content.

A case name, then, is specific, direction setting and content enhancing. That sounds clinical. Let’s breathe life into this by trying on a few case titles. Continue reading

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Are you committing this taboo with your appeals?

Every six weeks or so I get a nasty piece of mail, my visa bill. I don’t like it. Who does? But if the charges on the bill are mine, then they are mine. If my neighbour asked me to pay his visa bill, I’d shake my head in disbelief. I didn’t ring up his charges.

Direct mail appeal

Yet, ‘pay our visa bill’ is a common undertone in direct-mail, fundraising appeals. I received such an appeal recently. A foundation had made a commitment to fund X, Y and Z and would I kindly make a gift toward the project. They have committed. I am asked to pick up the bill. The idea of positioning the donor as a bank bothers me, both as a donor and as a communicator. Continue reading

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My top four remedies to cure writer’s block.

At times, the words dance off my keyboard and other times I gaze on a blank screen for an embarrassingly long time. The latter is particularly problematic when a deadline is looming. One does not often have the luxury of waiting around for the writer’s block to cure itself, as a sniffly nose might. So, what to do to remedy the block? Here are my top four cures:   Continue reading

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How to make your campaign message work harder.

Election campaigns Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 3.57.58 PMare much like fundraising campaigns. Just over a week ago, British Columbians went to the polls, and I was reminded of the power of the message. For those of you who don’t follow BC politics, six weeks before to the election, the NDP (New Democratic Party) commanded such a significant lead pundits and pollsters said it would be next to impossible for the governing Liberal Party to close the gap. We were expecting an easy NDP majority and an utterly obliterated Liberal Party. The results: a Liberal majority. What happened? Continue reading

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