Supporters as Advocates

I love creating space to read a book, one that relates to fundraising in some way, that makes me think. The hard part is creating space to do so. We tend to fit such ‘luxuries’ in between times – during a commute, and in our ‘spare’ time. Right now, with so much change happening I recommend you make it part of your core time – to read something that makes you think each week. Dare I say even at your desk during your working hours.

The current book that is getting my pencil marks, scribbles in the margin and folded corners is Marketing 4.0, published this year, by the “father of modern marketing” Philip Kotler, along with thought leaders Kartajaya and Setiawan. The inside fold gives a clue to what is to follow inside “the traditional path to purchase is expanded to include advocate because opinions of our family and friends have enormous impact on our buying decisions”. Chapter one talks of how a brand should no longer view customers as targets. Feels the sort of sentiment our sector needs to adopt if you replace customers with donors.

The reason the book caught my attention was the project I composed for the Commission on the Donor Experience,  was entitled Supporters as Advocates (and ended up being called Supporters as Champions of your mission). The Commission was an initiative I took part in to help provide fundraisers tools and guidance on to deliver a better donor experience

Think of your donors as potential advocates not targets

In the same vein as Marketing 4.0, the focus of the paper is how can you get donors to be your advocates. In our world (compared to that of commerce) it’s even more effective because an individual can open the door to an even bigger funding opportunity. You just don’t know in this connected world who people know.

My key recommendations of the paper, which will come to no surprise to followers of my blog are:

  1. Understand the paradigm shift: why your marketing needs to change and how this affects fundraising (by reading books like Marketing 4.0 and others I list in the paper).
  2. What’s your WHY – the emotional and consistent story that others will will spread?
  3. Identify people and organisations who share your beliefs. How can you get their attention? Give them permission and the means to spread your story.
  4. Give an experience that donors will talk about and recommend you to others.  It is another way to inspire people to spread your story.
  5. Be ready to react when opportunities come to you.

Altogether it’s about adopting a very different mindset than fundraising has done in the past. Hence it’s not about targeting people to get money out of them – in the same way a brand, in Kotler’s opinion, should no longer view customers as targets – it’s about how to get them to spread your story.

The paper starts with a summary to get you started along with more in depth case examples and some suggested exercises to get you started.

As well as examples from my time at SolarAid from using this mindset over 5 years, there are case examples from Charity: Water, and how they use birthdays as a way for people to talk about their story, along with the amazing Anthony Nolan and how they are always ready to react to inbound enquiries. Giles Pengram CBE provides a bit of an insider background to the NSPCC full stop campaign and how supporters as advocates was key to its success. So this is nothing new – although I believe it’s never been more important.

You can download the paper for free at SOFII

And in the Appendix you will find an exclusive interview with thought leader and author of Sticky Marketing, the book that got me started on this, Grant Leboff who agreed to speak at a lunch we invited him to with leading Directors of Fundraising, and kindly sponsored and hosted by Rory White at Flow Caritas (thanks Rory). Grant also reviewed the paper and has been championing this approach for sometime. Here is one of his blogs on the importance of advocacy.

You can read the summary and download the full paper from SOFII, the Showcase for Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration

My own thoughts and insights from reading and digesting Marketing 4.0 and translating into the context of fundraising will follow in time. If you have a book I should add to my reading list please let me know!

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