Communicators are from Mars. Fundraisers are from Venus.

I have a confession to make. I know with great intimacy the conflict that occurs between communications/marketing people and fundraisers, because not that long ago I was part of the problem. Throughout most of the 1990’s I was the communications director for a large national organization. Not only did I have a negative attitude toward… Read more

Is Brandraising the Same as Fundraising?

I have a confession to make. In the many tensions between communications and fundraising folks I often feel like a man without a country. My true love was strategic communications, but after 16 years I no longer wince when I am introduced as a ‘fundraiser.’ Among intramural tensions between fundraisers and comms folks, few issues… Read more

How Important is Your Unique Value Proposition?

In the world of consultant-speak, we have always held the unique value proposition (UVP) as one of the few bits of branding “conventional wisdom” that actually matters. We’re starting to change our minds. We have long held that mission, vision and values statements tend to be useless bs. But we’ve always adhered to the view… Read more

Can a Brand Be Too Clearly Defined?

The answer is yes, and how much it matters depends on who your audience is. For a variety of reasons, baby boomers (the current fundraising sweet spot) respond to brands and to marketing in fundamentally different ways than do millennials. According to psychologists “The younger minds tend to see reality in simpler terms than aging… Read more

The Open Sesame Fantasy

We all read Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves as kids. The eponymous shlub discovers that by uttering the words “open sesame,” the gates of a hidden treasure cave open wide. Ali Baba’s a fairy tale, but it seems to have infected expectations around messaging for fundraising, advocacy and marketing. If only we can string… Read more

what makes you think you’re so special?

One of my favorite Sopranos moments came in the first season in an exchange between Livia “Sunshine” Soprano and her grandson A.J. Ever the irrepressible optimist, Livia blurts out: “It’s all a big nothing. What makes you think you’re so special.” It’s a question non-profits ask themselves every day, admittedly in less psychotic circumstances. The… Read more

Love me or hate me

Love me or hate me. But for god’s sake, don’t just like me. That’s the theme of this smart post on why it’s better for your career to be loathed than liked. You can draw a straight line from the personal branding recommendations outlined in the post to our work marketing non profits and causes.… Read more

4 Steps To Know Your Audience

A Secret I’m going to tell you a secret about myself. I can be overly self-involved. I work at it, but I still find myself living and breathing in an Alia-centric world most days. (The irony is not lost that I’m leading this post about audience with a story about my own self-involvement). But there’s… Read more