Delegate brand awareness to the rookies.

A brand specialist at a recent Direct Marketing Association conference declared that the reason 52% of highly loyal customers defected from a popular brand was the issue of trust.  In fact, trust is the #1 reason people switch brands.  Look at Toyota’s problems right now.  Trust is broken.  Their brand was all about quality.  Now that’s gone.

For nonprofits in the field of fundraising, all the advertising and development dollars you can throw at your audience may build awareness, but not trust. So, where do you go for trust?  We trust others.  Our friends and family.  Celebrities we like.  Business associates.  Even folks we don’t know who seem sincere and appear to be just like us.

In today’s world, trust is viral.  Facebook and Twitter are contagious, spreading information in epidemic proportions.  Even annoying bulk emails pass along solitary opinions that become “truth” to millions. Your next question is, I’m sure, how do you trust others to promote your brand and get your message right?  The short answer is, you must and they won’t.

Ministry partners and advocates out there will never get your message entirely right.  They’re rookies.  But they will usually get the essence.  Or at least what is important to them.  And often that’s enough to impact their circle of influence. You may not like this, but development people are often the biggest barrier to promoting the brand.  They know they can communicate it better, clearer and more accurately.  And they’re right.  But most people just aren’t listening to development staff.  So, give it up to the folks with clout.

If you have donors and friends who go on “vision trips” to witness your ministry in action, interview them till the cows come home.  Get every word, every impression, every emotion they have to give.  Then, tell your story through them.  Do the same with advocates and volunteers.  They see you through the donors’ eyes.  Communicate what’s important to them.  Use surveys to uncover passionate advocates you’ve never met.  Then call them for an interview.  Get a photo and permission to make them an endorser. Speak through your ministry partners.  They may be rookies at communication, but they are trusted by your audience.  And trust makes your message resonate in both hearts and minds.