Archive for October 12th, 2012

October 12, 2012

Be Where Your Donor Prospects Are

I recently came across an advertisement from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The ad appeared in The Jewish Exponent. While the ad itself was not particularly remarkable, the mere fact it existed in a weekly newspaper in Philadelphia did strike me as noteworthy.

Let me explain what made the ad special.

The Museum, with its home in Washington, DC, was not promoting a special exhibition. It was not encouraging visitation at all. Instead, it was a fundraising ad. In recognition of its upcoming 20th anniversary, the Museum ran the ad to promote a special challenge grant designed to encourage people to make a planned gift to the institution.

I’m not going to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the ad itself. I’m not even going to distract you with an image of the ad. While the ad promoted planned giving, the important lesson here is applicable to any development effort. Therefore, instead of focusing on the content of the ad, I want to focus on where the ad appeared.

I did not see the ad in one of the Museum’s publications, though it may have appeared there. I’m not a donor or member. I saw the ad in an independent publication, read by those who may or may not be current Museum supporters.

Most nonprofit organizations market to existing donors and/or members. With 170,000 members, the Museum certainly has plenty of people to market to. And, it does. But, given the special occasion of its 20th anniversary, the Museum sought to broaden its outreach.

By placing an ad in the Exponent, the Museum has reached tens of thousands of Jewish people who may not currently support the institution and who may or may not have even visited. Nevertheless, these individuals may have an enormous interest in helping the Museum to secure its future.

When looking to broaden its outreach, the Museum looked at who its likely supporters would be. Then, it considered where those potential supporters are. To reach engaged Jewish people in a nearby metropolitan area, the Museum wisely chose the Exponent.

The Museum did not simply make a wish that folks would visit its website. Its development team did not rely on public service announcements broadcast to a broader population at four o’clock in the morning. No. The Museum proactively targeted an appropriately defined market segment and met those individuals where they spend time: in the pages of the Exponent.

Whether seeking planned giving, annual fund, capital campaign, membership, or special event support, it is certainly important to market to those closest to the organization, those already engaged. However, to acquire new donors, members, or participants, organizations need to look carefully at potential target populations and, then, determine where to find those individuals.

In short, nonprofit organizations need to be where their prospective donors are.

Why is this vitally important? Consider this planned giving finding from The 2012 Stelter Donor Insight Report: What Makes Them Give?:

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