After an event I spoke at recently, a local businessman introduced himself and held up his cell phone. I could see that morning’s blog photo on the screen.
He said the article had been forwarded to him by a friend who supports a local non-profit organization which he chairs. Could we get together? he asked.
This story confirms on a personal level what a recent Nielsen Ratings study proved from worldwide research: “Earned media,” that is a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or family, is the most trusted form of referral.
Our friends and family, well, they’re now called “influencers.”
And if you can’t earn enough of the right referrals, buy them! Kim Kardashian is reportedly paid $250,000 per Instagram post. I digress.
Today, I want to highlight four ways we fundraisers can “earn” “referrals” from our community’s most trusted “influencers,” whom we work with daily. They are our unpaid board members, volunteers, and donors who want nothing more than to see our organization succeed!
I’ve practiced these suggestions as an employed fundraiser and as a fundraising consultant, and I know from experience, they work! (Do you have an experience to share?)
– Focus on your personal brand. When a hospital foundation I led prepared to close, the entire development staff was meaningfully employed before the sunset on December 31st. Their professional reputations, built over many years of dedicated work, paid off.
– Prioritize “live” relationships over more visible forms of social validation such as “likes” and “followers,” which are nearly impossible to quantify as donors and supporters.
Instead of wrangling over a social media post, snap a mission-centered photo, and email it to a major donor with a quick thank you note.
– Fundraisers who are always “on” gain a reputation for dependability and reliability. Are you the person most people ask for when they call the office? Does everyone know, if you’re on top of the job, it gets done?
“You’re my security blanket,” a client told me recently. Last week, I thanked a business leader for a referral. He said, “You make us look good.”
These two “influencers” are the real deal! They’re unpaid, trusted, and authentic.
When trying to decide how to use your precious time, focus first on the donor “family” you already know. Value them. They are your best source of new support.
– Finally, and most importantly, produce the impact you promised. Mission-based fundraising is always in vogue. Nothing creates more buzz than a timely story or quantifiable outcome.
Share your happy results. Major gift stewardship should certainly be planned, but it should also be organic and instantaneous and targeted.
Why Marketing in a Fundraising Blog?
I decided to write today’s blog after listening to back-to-back podcasts on influencer marketing (Shane Barker) and vanity marketing metrics (Andy Crestodina).
Both confirmed what I’ve long thought was true for community fundraisers whose organizations raise and spend under $3.5 million per year: All fundraising is local (a twist on Tip O’Neill’s well-worn cliché).
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