There’s fundraising. Then there’s marketing. In most people’s minds, they’re two separate worlds. One is about blatant materialism, and the other’s about selfless altruism.
While that may be true on one level, the fact is that both marketing and fundraising are strikingly similar from the point of view of persuasion.
Take one example, a very successful mailing done for Peale Partners, a division of the Guideposts empire. The reason it did so well is that it uses many of the techniques of direct marketing. The envelope features a bold headline delivering a specific promise to the customer – er, donor. This big promise is then followed up with additional benefits to make the sale – in this case, to persuade the donor to open up the envelope – including, of course, the offer of something free. It’s consumer marketing from top to bottom, aimed at a donor instead of a buyer.
Other examples abound. In the fundraising world, creative directors talk about making a promise to the donor. They talk about presenting the donor with a specific, believable offer that will motivate her to give. They talk about persuasion strategies, about using guilt and fear and other motivators, about donors’ motivations for giving and how to tap into them.
Replace “donor” with “customer,” and you can see how interchangeable the two disciplines are becoming. In fact, a lot of fundraisers refer to their craft alternatively as fundraising and donor marketing.
Not surprisingly, one of the best direct response copywriters of all time, Clayton Makepeace, found his inspiration in fundraising. He recalls a time when he was a copy cub noticing how the fundraising writers were able to persuade people to send in money just by the sheer power of their letters.
From this revelation, he developed his theory of the dominate emotion and how to evoke it. He used his theory to sell – literally – millions of dollars of products and services to customers all over the world.
Fundraising and marketing – two separate worlds? Don’t you believe it.