In a world of Twitter, Facebook, web-based fundraising and all the other social media and Internet possibilities, is there still a place for printed marketing materials to support your development program?

As with everything else I’ve preached about fundraising, I think it all comes down to one key word: diversify!

Diversifying your funding streams is critical to a successful development program. Likewise, you should consider diversifying the approached to our donors. So here are a few potential donor constituencies and some ways they may be best approached:

Annual ReportFoundations:

Some foundations want to receive proposals online only so the mad rush to the post office on the due date for mailing a bound proposal may be a thing of the past (most grant seekers will probably welcome the loss of that late night trip). However deadlines on the Internet cannot be fudged, so be sure you have the proposal all written before posting it online, so it can be cut and pasted into the appropriate format.

How else can you communicate with Foundations? Foundation program officers will most likely visit your website for any additional information they need so make sure your website is up to date and professionally done.  Sending the Foundation program officer an annual report may be helpful, but again this should be listed on your website for easy access.

Corporations and Businesses:

If the corporation has a foundation they may be approached in a similar way as you would approach a private foundation. When you are dealing with a small business, however, the owner or decision maker may not have the time to search your website or read through tons of written materials. Get right to the point! Use a fact sheet which clearly outlines the organization’s program and the impact you have on the community. Also be sure to include any facts about the way the business will be recognized for their support and what impact their dollars will have on their community. For local businesses this is a key facet of the approach. A corporation may also want to see your annual report to make sure the bottom line shows that you are an efficient, well-run organization.


When volunteers are invited to contribute financially it is important to recognize their volunteer contributions. A direct mail or mail/phone approach can be effective if it is personalized to the volunteer, signed by a volunteer, and stresses the importance of both the volunteer’s time and their monetary gift. Volunteers may not need a fancy brochure because they are already familiar with your organization, but you may want to direct them to your website to see all the work your organization is doing beyond the programs with which they may already be familiar. Be sure if you this, that your website thanks and recognizes the volunteers who are involved.

Clients/Users of You Services/Alumni/Parents etc.:

This group, as with volunteers, will ready be familiar with your organization and will likely respond to a personalized approach, such as those mentioned above or an email solicitation inviting them to go to the website to make a gift. Of course, the website must have an easily accessed “Donate Here” button.

Individual Major Gift Prospects:

Major donors generally come from the donor pool of people who already support your organization, but they should be treated as a special group. They usually like to be on the “inside track” to often a “Draft Case Statement” will be effective in approaching them for their input on your project before it is a “done deal.”

The General Public:

Although this group may require the most expensive collateral material, it usually does not supply the greatest dollar amount of gifts. So, is it worth spending the money on glitzy brochures, videos, etc.? For each organization the amount spent depends on several factors:

  • Your budget, of course, do you have the money to invest in this donor pool?
  • The awareness your organization has in the community—for organizations who do to have a great deal of awareness, they may need to invest more money increasing that awareness.
  • The amount of money you need to raise: when your organization is in a capital campaign the dollar amount of the goal may easily justify the cost of collateral materials.
  • The nature of your organization—a museum, hospital or university can usually get away with a more up-scale marketing piece, but a human service agency can often turn people off if their material appears to be too expensive.

So how do you decide what the key elements of you marketing collateral program should be? Here are some steps that can help.

  1. Have a compelling case for support for your organization. All your materials should come from this case statement and should all have a uniform look, sound and feel.
  2. Determine who your audiences are—there may be more stakeholders than you think!
  3. Determine what types of materials are best for each constituency, how many of each of these materials you will need, and how much they will cost.
  4. Determine your budget and how much it is appropriate to invest in each constituency.
  5. Look for ways to produce your materials economically: Getting a printer and/or designer to donate some of their services or having the cost of a video or brochure underwritten by a donor.

What should be the key elements of your marketing collateral program?

  • The case for support
  • A top notch website
  • An annual report
  • Leadership case statements for major donors
  • PowerPoint presentation for group presentations
  • Brochures
  • Stationery and envelopes
  • Fact Sheets
  • Video, CDs or DVD
  • Pledge cards, response envelopes and letters of intent

In some cases, additional collateral material may be helpful such as bookmarks, recognition pieces, giveaways.  But always start with the two key ingredients: A powerful case and a dynamite website!