Which came first, the channel or the shoe?

When planning integrated marketing campaigns, many of us inadvertently start the wrong way around. We look at our communication options, and say, “Let’s update the website, send out an email, and do a Facebook campaign.” And then we figure out the content for these channels after deciding which ones we’ll use.

In this case it helps to consider best practices from the for-profit world: when Nike is planning their next campaign, do they figure out where to advertise before they design a shoe? No, they have an awesome new product to sell first, then they decide how to sell it.

Non-profit marketers should do the same thing for our campaigns: figure out the key message of your fundraising campaign and then decide how to share it. Ideally the ask should be as general as possible to maximize potential donors, but targeted to those who are most likely to give. Once you’ve figured out your donor personas, you’ll know which specific messaging resonates with your donors and can tailor the message to encourage them to give.

For example, you might have in the past had environmental messaging with a science bent, or messaging about spending time outdoors, or talked about the purity or the natural world, or focussed on gardening and backyards, or shared doom-and-gloom scenarios. Maybe the science-y posts get attention on social media, and people like your events about gardening, but if talking about spending time outdoors is what your donors like, you should tailor your campaign around that.

Once you have your message and ask in place, think about how to reach the people who are most likely to give and target those channels. Facebook will be happy if you spend your campaign budget with them, but if your Facebook followers don’t respond to asks, you might as well be offering them a poorly-designed shoe.