Since May 2011, I have had the pleasure of working at Tammy
Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities. Tammy Lynn Center has benefitted
from strong brand awareness and a robust fundraising program, with a rich
history in the Triangle since 1969.
In 2002, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. LeRoy T. Walker,
the first black president of the U.S. Olympic Committee. An amazing athlete and inspirational leader,
Dr. Walker has shaped the thoughts of many people, including me.
Dr. Walker said, “In sports, one has to recognize that
success is not final, and failure is not fatal.”
This quote applies to work across all industries and can be
easily translated to the nonprofit sector. Although Dr. Walker said it much more
eloquently, when it comes to building and achieving strong brand awareness, I
have generally two rules: 1) Your work is never done, and 2) It usually doesn’t
hurt to try.
is never done. Tammy Lynn Center has been around for more than 44 years. We
have served thousands of Triangle families. Families move from out of state
just to receive Center services. We have been visited by international
constituencies asking us how to best serve their communities. This gives
evidence of Tammy Lynn’s strong brand awareness, but that does not mean that we
can become complacent.
In a world of so much noise, we
must find a way to be heard and the way that we do that and promote our brand
Take advantage of every opportunity to do what I
call “Waving the Flag.” Attend Chamber events,
leadership conferences and say yes when asked to speak.
Start with the Why. Tell the story about why what you do matters first.
Be engaged in the conversation. Get in the
conversation early with your city, county and state leaders. This creates
relevancy for yourself and therefore relevancy for your agency.
usually doesn’t hurt to try. Over the past 44 years, Tammy Lynn Center has
had the opportunity to try many marketing and brand building approaches. We
have invested in different media mediums, begged for news coverage and created opportunities
for the press to come visit. Trying all of these ideas has given us a chance to
evaluate success and retool our plan. Here are our general rules for marketing:
Don’t rely on every media outlet to give you
Media agencies will respond to a list of what
you want. Create a list that includes a combination of what you can pay for and
what you would like donated.
Don’t invest in every form of advertising. Think
about your targeted audience. What is your message to them? Then, target your
marketing to appropriate advertising outlets that reach your audience.
Creating brand awareness is evolution, not
revolution. Plant the seeds, water them, and then tend to the plants as they
grow. Some crops that you plant might not grow the way you expect; some might
not grow at all. Use that as a learning experience to refine your methods.
Tammy Lynn Center has had a robust fundraising program, and
every year we are getting better. This does not mean that we do anything
exactly creative. In fact, I would caution organizations about watching for
gimmicks that promote having a magic fundraising bullet. The truth of the
matter is that there is no magic bullet. It comes down to one thing: Relationship building.
Donors give money for two reasons: 1) They feel passionate
for, or connected, to the cause. 2) They cannot say no to the person asking.
Connecting to the Cause:
Some donors have a personal connection because
they have used services. In this case, the passion is already there.
Individuals and corporations not already
connected to your cause need a reason to become connected. To create a reason,
your first step is to listen. Listen to what the individual or corporation
cares about and then look for ways that your organization connects to them.
Not being able to say “No” to the person who asks:
This comes down to relationships. Build partnerships
with corporations and foundations. Build relationships with individuals.
Investments versus transactions. Think about a transaction as being a date. Think
about an investment as being marriage. You want a happy marriage for your
donors and your organization. It takes
time to build a marriage.
Keep your donors saying yes! Communicate how their support makes a
difference, let them know what the organization is doing, and continue to
invest in your relationship.
I’ll leave you with another Dr. Walker quote, “We ought to keep them informed. We ought to
let them know what the Olympic movement is all about and what’s
happening to the dollars that they give.”
Labels: brand awareness, fundraising, LeRoy T. Walker, nonprofit marketing, Tammy Lynn Center