To Reach Donors, Nonprofits Turn to Marketers….And Sharks

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros
The Colon Cancer Alliance partnered with the Discovery Channel for a Shark Week promotion.
The Colon Cancer Alliance partnered with the Discovery Channel for a Shark Week promotion.

Nonprofits are in a battle to raise funds, and many are turning to marketers to help explain their mission reach potential donors.

The New York Times showcased the Colon Cancer Alliance’s efforts to rebrand, which included a creative partnership with the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week. A “shark vs. colon” meme—captioned “Sharks attack fewer than 16 people per year, while more than 130,000 are estimated to be diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017”—highlighted the need to raise awareness and funding to combat the disease.

As the Times reports, branding and marketing experts are helping nonprofits explain their purpose in clear, simple and powerful ways, often using storytelling to connect with the public to inspire them to donate or get involved.

“It’s a different skill set,” said Jim Fosina, founder and chief executive of the Fosina Marketing Group told the Times.

The article also looks at how other nonprofits such as the Lupus Foundation and Easterseals revamped their branding. Even though Easterseals had been around for nearly 100 years, surveys showed that most people had no clue exactly what the organization did, said Alan Siegel, founder of the consulting firm Siegelvision, which works with the nonprofit.

His recommendation? Use the word “disability” in messaging to emphasize the group’s focus. The new tagline, “taking on disability together,” gives a clearer message of its mission, he told the Times, noting that some people were hesitant to do this. “But there’s a certain authenticity to saying, ‘This is who were are, and this is what we do.’”

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