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Fundraising and the 4 P’s of Marketing

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about chewing gum or feeding the hungry; the principles of good marketing remain the same. But how you apply those principles to the fundraising arena will affect results.

One of the fundamentals of traditional marketing is the four P’s – Product, Place, Price and Promotion. In very simple terms – develop the right product for the right target; develop the location that will be most conducive to sales; price it effectively; promote it strategically and presto, you have marketing success. More importantly, the combination of how each of these is applied represents an opportunity to truly stand out from your competitors.

Applying the four P’s to the world of fundraising requires some consideration. Here’s my take.

Product – First you have to understand that the product you are marketing is not the cause, the institution or the organization for which funds are being raised.  The product is the impact fundraised dollars will have. The product is what the donor will feel when she or he makes a contribution. The product is the relationship that will ensue. If you are marketing a fundraising opportunity, you are selling a dream, a vision, a sense of satisfaction, and the ability for an individual to make a difference. There’s no question that the credibility and capacity of the organization are key ingredients in your ability to deliver that product. But your focus is the exchange with the donor and the unique opportunity that it can provide.

Place – You want to think about where the donor will be when making a giving decision. For new donors, that may be in their home or their office. Is it reading a letter or looking at something online? Put yourself in the shoes of a donor – in that place – and think about what would make you give. If you’re using an email or mobile campaign, you have to consider the possibility that prospective donors are on a subway, in their car or walking down the street. That’s going to take a quick and powerful pitch to promote action.  Another approach is to use images and video to transport the donor from wherever they are to where you need them to be.

Price – The way in which a product is priced makes a huge statement about that product. A $1000 a plate gala invitation makes a very different statement than a $5 point of sale opportunity. You want to make sure you have the right giving options for the right target. Think about who your donors are  – whether that’s for the whole organization or a particular campaign – and make sure the giving levels are aligned. This also means the array of options should be different online than it is for direct mail and even different for different segments. The most important consideration is what will your donor feel when he or she sees the giving level being requested.

Promotion – Your website, print collateral, letters and advertising have to take all that is unique in the points above and tell donors the stories that set you apart. Your material cannot not look or sound like the stuff from every other organization. Find the essence of what makes you different and transform it into something that is not only easily communicated but that is talkable – so that people can easily talk, tweet and email about it. This could be a great thank you video or a unique website design or an effective tagline. You can search the web and will find lots of examples. But remember your aim is not to copy what others have done but rather be inspired to find the means of effectively distinguishing your giving opportunity.

Whether you’re a marketing specialist, a fundraiser or a volunteer solicitor, using the four P’s effectively will improve results.

That’s my interpretation of how to apply the four P’s to fundraising but I’m sure others have different opinions. Please share yours by commenting below.

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