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What President Obama’s Gay Marriage Support Teaches Non-profits About Messaging

What President Obama’s Gay Marriage Support Teaches Non-profits About Messaging

May 21, 2012

For just a minute, let’s set aside our own personal views about the gay marriage debate and examine it from a messaging standpoint and how the same can be effective for how your non-profit mobilizes supporters towards a specific call to action.

Timing…it’s all about timing. To the right people, with the right message, at the right time. That’s the whole premise of effective marketing.

In President Obama’s case, publicly supporting gay marriage came at the right time.

Here’s a simple timeline of how his public support was rolled out (some argue that it was very strategic):

  • Vice-President Joe Biden publicly supports gay marriage (May 6th)
  • The gay marriage vote aka Amendment One is defeated in North Carolina (May 8th)
  • President Obama publicly supports gay marriage, a stance he’s been quiet about for some time (May 9th)

It may just be pure coincidence but the timing of events was perfect, and non-profits can take a page out of his playbook.

As a non-profit, you’ve already figured out that a strong call to action will be necessary to drive up donations within the next quarter. You also know (hopefully) what motivates your donors and supporters to give OR at least you’ve noticed a trend in when they give and linked that back to their motivating factors.

So instead of a one-shot email making the case for why they should give, you have staggered messages strategically distributed in layers and with purposeful timing.

In other words, it’s like driving by a plain white billboard with simple black text that says something as simple as “It’s coming.” or simply states a date like “May 18th.”

You drive by this billboard on your daily commute and see this message for an entire week. The next week you drive by and the billboard changes to a message that says “Are you ready,” or something like “What will you do?”

Again, you drive past this sign everyday for another week and wonder to yourself, “What in the world is that about?”

Long story short, that sign changes every week with very intriguing yet curious statements for an entire month until the 5th week when the actual short and sweet message is posted.

See where I’m going with this?

The same goes for your non-profit. Your donors know your organization needs your money. You always need money…that’s how your programs get the support that they need.

But, asking for the money without timing the messages with either a motivating factor or tying it to current event/news just won’t cut to the clutter and get them to dig into their pockets and purses and give you their hard earned dollar.

This is a simple case of smart messaging that we’ve always experienced great results from for our non-profit clients.

How do you think your messages resonate? Is your fund development strategy aligned with a strategic messaging campaign?

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