Marketing is not the same thing as fundraising

To support charities with their fundraising efforts, we have produced a series of articles, written by our Head of Philanthropy, Fleur Kellenbach. Please subscribe below to receive information when new articles are published in this series.

Author: Fleur Kellenbach for Wildlife & Welfare, 2018

Marketing is not the same thing as fundraising

Most of all, this statement is news to a lot of recruiters.  We have a high staff attrition rate in the fundraising sector due to this conundrum, and finding a Major Gifts expert, is like a needle in a haystack.

Many of the headhunters and recruiters for our sector, are operating on a core assumption that the cultivation of philanthropic gifts must be the same as the rules for standard business development practices, right? Wrong. Marketing and sales and the three second messaging rule is the opposite of appropriately cultivating a philanthropic gift.

Whilst there will always be the volume of small transactional gifts that are incoming, and these donors will be pooled into a stewardship category, cultivating a more impactful philanthropic gift is a long term process that involves an expert level of relationship management.

Whilst there are processes and tangible aspects that can be learned in fundraising, none of this will matter in the cultivation of larger gifts if the individual fundraiser does not possess the intangible qualities that are required for a major gifts program.

Relationship management, is our currency.  

If you’re starting from scratch, my favourite philanthropy researchers, Bekkers and Wiepking (2011) have done the analysis for us.  They identify eight mechanisms as the most important forces that drive charitable giving, and these are:

  1. Your audience must have an awareness of your need;

  2. You need to ask for the support by soliciting the gift;

  3. You need to demonstrate the costs and benefits;

  4. Your audience must have a sense of altruism;

  5. The donor has value attached to the charitable act, which informs on their reputation;

  6. The donor is aware of the psychological benefits of giving and experiences joy based on this intangible value;

  7. The donor recognises the values acquired via giving philanthropically;

  8. The donor believes that their gift to your organisation will provide efficacy, that will be linked to a direct output for the cause.

These mechanisms are as relevant in 2018 as they were in 2011.  Your strategy, irrespective of which type of fundraising programs you are running, should always comprise these drivers.  

Philanthropic fundraising is based in psychology and the links to the intangible benefits and outputs that are as a result of charitable giving, are not attached to the act of marketing.

Marketing is a highly important adjunct tool for the philanthropic cultivation of gifts.  These engagement tools and messaging platforms should be designed as a feature of the entire cultivation strategy, taking into consideration the fundraising programs in development for the organisation. The cultivation strategy however, is not a feature of the marketing plan.

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Bekkers, R., & Wiepking, P. (2011). A Literature Review of Empirical Studies of Philanthropy: Eight Mechanisms That Drive Charitable Giving. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 40(5), 924-973.