My dad called up the other evening frustrated with a large charity’s marketing strategy. They sent him another glossy pamphlet seeking donations, this time to help protect Filipino’s from future natural disasters. There were emotive stories and images about the damage caused by a previous typhoon and claims that his donation will help protect from further damage in the instance of another natural disaster.
My dad was frustrated because he wanted the facts, not handpicked sob stories! He wanted to understand the program logic. What work would they be doing? What are the expected outcomes of the program? What would happen without the program? How does this program fit in with other work being done in the space?
Why didn’t he get this information?
According to Magda Kubicka, an experienced fundraising professional, appeals like this are marketed towards the impulse or compassionate giver – those that give small one-off donations. These campaigns are are most effective when they tug at the heartstrings and trigger an emotional response.
They’re not designed for the strategic donor, a cohort of people who seek the facts that guarantee their donation will bring impact and make long lasting change.
Right now most marketing material is targeted towards the impulse givers. However, there is also a movement to encourage donors to think more strategically about their donations. Organisations like New Philanthropy Capital and the Stanford Social Innovation Review work tirelessly to make it easy for us to understand how to give strategically. Leading charities are following and starting to share with us their strategies, program design logics and program evaluations so we know what our real impact might be.
Clearly my dad is a strategic donor, not an impulse giver, so emotional marketing material will never appeal to him. What should he do to get the facts? He can try asking. High performing charities will willingly share and promote this work.