Martin Letter.Abovethe ClutterDocument Transcript
T H E
martin L E T T E R
Published by MGI / Services and Counsel in fund-raising and communications
Rising Above the Clutter
By John A. Martin, CFRE
When times are tough, integrated fund raising and communication strategies matter more than ever.
Yet for many non-proﬁt institutions, maximizing communications potential is a difﬁcult task, often tak-
ing a back seat to the more pressing issues of service, annual fund raising, and organizational goals.
Combine that with the fact that many institutions are insular, with message planning happening from
the inside-out rather than from a more effective outside-in market perspective, and cutting through
the daily deluge of consumer information (it’s estimated the average adult receives up to 3,000 infor-
mational messages each day) can be a daunting challenge.
ising above the clutter requires a In terms of timing, a communications pro- partners – preferably with a brand that has a
R compelling message that will not
only capture your audience’s atten-
gram cannot start early enough.
Communication helps support campaign
reputation for being “trustworthy.”
Trustworthy brands are becoming the donor’s
tion, but be persuasive enough to hold on to goals but it takes planning and resources to roadmap through a giant worldwide bazaar
it. Taking the time to craft such a message is generate positive awareness, attitudes, and in which tens of millions of other sellers are
key. Rushing the process usually results in enthusiasm, to build credibility, and to sur- trying lure your donor away.
“me too,” internally focused, irrelevant com- mount obstacles. It takes more than a
munication, which is ultimately a waste of newsletter – more than a few press releases Special focus will be required in the case
money. Many times goals are set and mes- – more than a few on-air pitches. It requires document and all literature must be speciﬁc
sages developed through wishful thinking and a strategic communication plan, and the cre- with regard to the program elements of the
ratiﬁed by a few senior staff and volunteers, ativity and long-term view to carry it out. It campaign. A powerful worthiness based
when a marketplace perspective is what is requires the commitment from the institu- case is more important than ever today.
required. Furthermore, companies often pro- tional staff and volunteer leadership and the Institutions must be prepared to address
ceed with creating a message without ever necessary resources to do the job. three critical case questions: Why this organ-
considering: who will hear it, what they ization? Why these projects? Why now? With
want the recipient to do, or how the mes- Here are some speciﬁc things to these messages clearly articulated, communi-
sage will make the recipient feel about the consider as you develop your orga- cating the importance of the mission and the
value the organization delivers. nization’s communications program: campaign to the donor community becomes
the primary task.
Your communications program should not Institutions must strive to achieve
be about changing an attitude or a behavior, “brand pinnacle.” If your campaign is to be Positioning is the basis for all of your
but about creating increased awareness, successful, a concerted and deliberate com- communications. Too often institutions
recognition, and support for your institution munication effort will have to be carried out. have multiple themes and taglines that con-
and its important work. A positive and aggressive program must be fuse the donor community. By having one
The goal is support and expansion of your devised whereby your institution expresses its meaningful, targeted positioning statement as
fund-raising effort – reaching your stake- goals through “branding” and a closer work- a guide for all communications, you will con-
holders with the information they need and ing relationship with its key publics. First, you vey a consistent image and, most important, a
want; developing targeted and strategic com- must reach out to the “key opinion” leaders consistent message.
munications and public relations activities in the donor community and enlist their sup-
that build the relationships you need, today port for your institution by educating them on Identities create a brand image. Image
and for the future, and creating messages that the “value” of your institution. Second, you means personality. The personality of an
inform, interest and activate. must build on the relationship with strategic organization is an amalgam of many things.
MGI / Services and Counsel in fund-raising and communications
Many marketing activities besides your insti- what you are saying is true. This lends credi-
tution identity contribute to image. These bility to your position, and will further hold About the author…
include, among others, public relations, your audience’s attention. You might consid- Joh n Mar tin has more than 30 years experi-
advertising, fund raising, special events, and er having different proof statements depend- ence in the not-for proﬁt ﬁeld, on both the
organizational and consulting sides. Through his
crisis management. ing on the interests of your target market to consulting work with clients seeking counsel for
make your message even more effective. major capital and endowment campaigns,
The Opportunity. Today’s environments are Mr. Martin has earned a reputation as one of
North America's top strategists for the not-for-
multimedia, multi-channel, and multi-senso- While your core messages do not need to be proﬁt sector. His brash mix of social concern and
ry and digital communications, transporta- repeated word for word, the meaning behind aggressive business smarts has helped raised
tion, products, and services are becoming the messages need to be clearly articulated in hundreds of millions of dollars for colleges,
hospitals, human service organizations and arts
global. The consumer is bombarded with every communication. Different types of com- and cultural groups throughout North America.
images and messages. It is not enough just to munication vehicles may lend themselves to John Martin was chosen the 2007 Professional
focus on your core competencies, quality, different ways of paraphrasing your message. Fund Raiser. He can be reached via email:
and customer value. To achieve campaign Therefore, think of your core message as a
goals it is imperative to develop a powerful framework or map so that you do not stray MGI is a full service fund-raising and communica-
tions consulting ﬁrm operating across North America.
point of differentiation using branding to cre- from the points you want to make. David We consult throughout the United States and Canada
ate positive overall stakeholder impressions Ogilvy, one of the architects of the advertising for a wide range of not-for-proﬁt clients:
that depict the multifaceted personality of industry, was fond of saying: “Three tips for • Hospitals and Health Care Organizations
your institution. getting your message out. Tip 1, repetition. • Social Service Organizations
• Private Schools, Colleges, Universities and
Tip 2, repetition. Tip 3 repetition.” Post-Graduate Schools
The Attributes of a Good Message. Your • Cultural and Arts Organizations
• Churches, Synagogues and Religious Organizations
message must grab your audience’s attention Focus on One Goal. Trying to communicate
and make them want to listen to and explore too many things dilutes your message and will The experience and resources of the ﬁrm have been
used by a variety of clients from well-established
what you have to say. It is best if your message diminish the probability that your audience national not-for-proﬁt organizations looking to
connects with the interests of your audience, stays tuned to what you have to say. prepare themselves for the 21st century to ﬁrst time
start-up capital campaigns.
and conveys in a clear, understandable man-
ner what you want your audience to do. As Measure, Adjust, Evolve. Once you have For more information about readiness studies, audits
and feasibility consultancy, please contact John at:
you create your message, realize that mes- developed a compelling and relevant mes- firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Toll Free Number:
sages that inform are different than messages sage, continually monitor and track it to 1-800-387-9840.
that intend to catalyze an action. Carefully ensure your audience is listening to you and
consider your objective. interpreting what you are saying in the way
you want. Consider regular surveys or focus T H E
A good message is focused and succinct. It
speaks to how you can solve your audience’s
problem, why they should trust you, and why
they should do business with you over and
groups to make sure your message commu-
nicates value and is compelling and relevant
for your audience. martin L E T T E R
above anyone else. It needs to be relevant and It is especially important to evolve your mes-
in language your market understands, not sage when the market landscape changes, Publisher: John A. Martin, CFRE
peppered with technical jargon or industry when a key event such as a merger or acqui- Editor: Pamela Capriotti, CFRE
terminology. sition occurs, when your institution moves Contributing Editors:
into a new market space or when you have Elizabeth Hamrick
Generational Messaging. Your messages gained traction in an existing market. For
MGI Fun d Raisin g
need to be crafted to address the generational smaller institution it is essential to evolve the
values of your stakeholders. That means you message as the company grows, changing Con sultin g, In c.
need to know and understand the ﬁve from a focus on acquiring investors to attract- 2925 Dean Parkway – Suite 300
American Generations and where your ing customers. Minneapolis, MN 55416
donors ﬁt. 120 Adelaide St.W. – Suite 2500
Speak With One Voice. Once you have cre- Toronto, Ontario M5H 1T1
Repetition, Proof Statements, ated your compelling message, make sure For information on our services,
Consistency. Your message needs to be car- that you train the entire organization on it. call toll-free 1.800.387.9840
(U.S. or Canada)
ried out in everything you do – not just grab Speaking from a single, uniﬁed voice is a very Visit our website:
the audience once, but re-enforce why the powerful tool for putting your organization www.mgifundraising.com
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