He said/She said: Thoughts on how your Brand helps you raise more money

Home > News

Bryan: So here we are Lisette. We have 500 to 700 words to talk about how to make an emotional connection with donors at a time when an emotional connection is more important than ever, given the pandemic era we’re living in.

Lisette: You’re so right Bryan. The world certainly isn’t out of the woods yet when it comes to the pandemic. I think we’re going to be living with the fall-out from Covid-19 for a while. It’s a time when charities and non-profits need to find innovative ways to connect with donors and make them feel emotionally connected to the cause – or they’re going to bolt for an organization that meets them where they are emotionally.

Bryan: I know where you’re going with this. The brand is the emotional heart of any charity or non-profit, reflecting the organization’s reason for being in the most human terms. And yet, when the brand is developed by the marketing folks, too often, the fundraising channels and what they need to do aren’t really taken into consideration. What do you think the first thing an organization should think about to make sure their fundraising reflects the brand in a way that creates an emotional response and then an actual response where they’re opening their wallets?

Lisette: The first place to start is the brand guidelines. The organization’s brand guidelines need to reflect the emotional heart of the organization and how it’s used by fundraisers. Not just the marketers. Think about how you’re going to make a case to your donors about why they should give to your charity right now. That case then needs to be delivered consistently everywhere – whether in mail, digital, social, tv, you name it. Bryan, you’ve done some great work in this area. Can you give us an example of how to pull this off?

Bryan: For sure. When we won the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation account out of the States, they had just gone through a re-brand. But when I got a look at the Brand Guidelines, it was clear that they really hadn’t considered the fundraising channels. We developed a Brand Addendum to better reflect what the brand needed to do in those channels where we were talking one-on-one with donors and asking for money. (See examples below)

Lisette: Right, so more personal, more emotive, more authentic as if one person was talking to another and asking for a donation.

Bryan: Exactly. What do you think the biggest mistake an organization makes when it comes to bringing the brand to life in fundraising?

Lisette: So, excellent question…

Bryan: Thank you. [Laughter]

Lisette: [Eyeroll] I think the biggest mistake organizations make is when Marketing and Fundraising exist in siloes with no bridge between them.

Bryan: How do you bridge the divide? Can a charity bridge that divide?

Lisette: I think that might be where an integrated agency or a consultant could play a role. Or cross-train Marketers and Fundraisers so that they are at least coming at the solution from the same table. But probably the easiest and quickest solution is making sure they simply come together and develop an integrated Briefing document at the very beginning of a campaign – or better yet, at the beginning of their fiscal.

Bryan: That’s brilliant, Lisette.

Lisette: Thank you. [Laughter]

Bryan: Well, and as a Creative person, I couldn’t agree more. As I always say, and as my team is tired of hearing me say, it’s critical to do the heavy lifting strategically up front. That’s the only way to make sure the message and the creative strategy is consistent throughout the campaign.

Lisette: I never get tired of hearing you say that Bryan. But it’s not just consistency. It’s making sure the fundraising is as compelling as possible and leverages the rest of the creative that’s in market at the same time. This will drive better fundraising results.

Bryan: Agreed – and it’s important to note that it’s not just about “matching luggage”. It’s the creative strategy and the Brand’s attributes that need to thread through everything. We don’t need to see the exact same picture and headlines everywhere. We need to respect what each channel is intended to do.

Lisette: It always must come back to the business and fundraising objectives.

Bryan: So, I think we are a little over our 700-word limit so I’m going to say, goodbye. This was fun.

Lisette: I have more to say. Let’s do this again.

Bryan: Deal!

A page from Komen’s Brand Guidelines


Breast Cancer Month Mailing – BEFORE Fundraising Brand Addendum


Breast Cancer Month Mailing – AFTER Fundraising Brand Addendum

Bryan Tenenhouse is EVP, Chief Creative Officer at Stephen Thomas Ltd (ST) where he has been leading a creative department famous for developing revenue-generating work in all channels in both Canada and the US.

Lisette Gelinas is Director, Brand Strategy at ST. She helps non-profits build the bridge between fundraising and marketing to raise more money.