Tag Archives: nonprofit management

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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Why?

When my daughter was young, I didn’t appreciate the seemingly endless why questions she asked. But today I appreciate the why. It is integral to making an inspiring case for a cause.

Yesterday I watched Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on How great leaders inspire action. The talk is 18 minutes long and well worth the investment of time. I encourage you to watch it. If you are in a rush, fast forward to the 15 minute mark; that’s where he brings in a nonprofit example.

Continue reading

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Seven ways to strengthen your fall direct mail appeal.

I could always count on my mother in law to be the first to announce that fall is in the air. At times the proclamation came when spring had just slipped into summer. But it is mid August, and for many nonprofits that means the direct mail package is about to go to print. Before you sign on the dotted line of the press proof, iStock_000021567117Smallask: What, precisely, do I want my reader to think, feel and do in response to this package?

Jot down your answer on a piece of paper. Then ask a friend or colleague (preferably someone from outside your organization) to read the package and ask her what it makes her think, feel and want to do.

If the appeal gets less than an A+, strengthen it by being more intentional about the content (thinking of the three points above) and by: 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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Yes. There is an “I” in persuasion.

I in persuasionWe all know that there is no “I” in team. But there is an important “I” in persuasion.

When I saw Arlene Dickinson’s book, Persuasion, on a display table at a local bookstore, I was curious. I know Dickinson from her role on CBC’s reality investment show Dragons’ Den where she is the lone female dragon. She appears to be confident, friendly, real and knowledgable. She landed the role because of her sharp business acumen and intuitive marketing mind. (You can learn more about Dickinson here.) So, I picked up her book expecting to read about sales techniques, dealmaking and argumentation. I am half way through the book and none of these topics have come up.

Dickinson’s focus is on the persuader. The “I”. The individual. She challenges me to think about who I am. Continue reading

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