Apr 27

Changing the Appeal

Adrienne Caruso

Tactical Philanthropy had an interesting post this week on the trend of rebranding philanthropy – essentially, turning the focus on giving from an obligation/”should” to an added value/”want.” The post references a recent article in Fast Company on the rebranding of baby carrots as junk food – turning the traditional health-food marketing tactic on its head. (If you haven’t read the piece, do so  – I thought it was fascinating).

Coming up with creative ways to position philanthropy is something we as communicators focused on social impact are challenged with every day. In an ideal world, organizations would create compelling cases for donation or engagement to appeal to their community, creating a sense of urgency while avoiding over-soliciting (donors’ No. 1 complaint, according to Cygnus Applied Research’s 2010 Donor Survey).

Should more organizations be thinking about shifting their appeal from a “should” to a “want,” like Tactical Philanthropy explores?

Consider the ASPCA, well-known for their tear-jerker PSA campaigns that make anyone with a heart feel like they are obligated to save an animal’s life. Would it be more effective, for example, to feature happy pet owners walking their dogs in the park, touting the benefits of adoption and how their pets have positively influenced their lives?

Some organizations have their donation appeals down to a science, but many continue to search for the right way to encourage donations or volunteering without overloading their network.  So what’s the middle ground? Is there an effective model for philanthropy that frames giving as something people will want to do, rather than something they should?

Baby carrots may have something to teach us — sales increased 10 to 12 percent following the junk food campaign.


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