December is upon us and red is everywhere. We, like many of you, are now nearly immune to the clusters of red that have sprouted up in shopping malls, on neighbors’ homes, and city streets – some only the day after Halloween!
That said, we couldn’t help but notice the collaboration between Product (RED) and Apple that has colored the Internet and social media channels alike for yesterday's World Aids Day celebration. If you’ve opened the App Store in the last week, you’ve probably noticed it too.
Among the sea of red you will see taglines such as (RED)'s clever catchphrase “Get Apps. Save Lives.” This collaboration with Apple continues (RED)’s longstanding tradition of outstanding cause marketing campaigns, which has generated over $275 million in eight years to fight AIDS in Africa. (RED), like popular double-bottom line brand TOMS, has leveraged celebrity endorsements, social media, and mobile technology to make gifting for social good cool.
Though we at Plenty aren’t big fans of transactional giving, (RED)’s entrepreneurs have developed an undeniably popular social business model tailored to Millennials and mobile users. In other words, they’ve mastered Success Factor #2: know your audience. And while we still believe that (RED)’s constituents should value the “why” of their campaign - an AIDS-free generation - over the “what”, which in this case is the latest version of Angry Birds, it is hard to overlook the success their campaigns have experienced.
So here are the four (RED) inspired stewardship tips, that won't compromise your mission:1. Define your audience. One of our favorite donor cultivation lines is, “Don’t try to French kiss me before you even ask my name.” It highlights the complexity of donor relationships. It takes time and a deep understanding of your constituents’ needs and behaviors to build strong relationships with them. Reaching new donors is no different. It requires you to build new relationships, relationships that cannot stand on a foundation as broad as “middle aged females” or “18-25 year olds.” You must narrow your audience down to a specific group of supporters who can be addressed in specialized and meaningful ways.
(RED) chose to collaborate with Apple because their brand resonates with the music loving, tech savvy, on-trend, and socially conscious consumers who form their target audience. These weighty adjectives are a result of asking the right questions: Where do our donors congregate? What are their goals? Who influences them? Don’t be afraid to dive into your data and narrow your focus. Your organization’s wallet will thank you when you fish in a smaller pond.
2. Speak their language. After you know your audience you can develop communications that inspire, entertain, and advocate for your cause. We’ve recently written on the importance of one-sentence mission statements and speaking the Millennial language, both of which (RED) does well year-round and in their current App Store campaign. Two takeaways from their communications are:
- Keep it short and sweet. Try holding yourself to 140 characters. This is a prerequisite for your tweets, but a good exercise for all outlets. Concisely communicate your cause and people will not only read it, but remember it, and most importantly, share it with their friends.
- Incorporate graphics. We live in a visual world. Even statistics lovers now use infographics as communication tools. The use of graphics will allow you to keep communications simple without compromising the power of your story.
3. Choose platforms wisely. Just because you don’t have the luxury of (RED)’s access to Apple's web arsenal doesn’t mean that you can’t effectively connect with your audience. (RED) succeeds year-round by engaging and expanding their existing networks of consumers, not by building them from scratch. Choose a platform where your constituents are already interacting with each other and join the conversation. Catering to a younger demographic? Consider Twitter, WhatsApp or Snapchat. Gearing content toward mid-career professionals? LinkedIn may be your best bet. Social media is a peer-to-peer paradise – use it to create meaningful, mission-driven dialogue.
4. Befriend Bono. What’s that? You mean your organization doesn’t have the U2 front man on speed dial? Luckily you don’t have to. Take a look at your top donors and fundraisers – these individuals are the hubs of your network with the most powerful connections. Cultivate strong relationships with these “Bonos” and leverage their influence to raise awareness and funds for your next campaign.
If you are a Product (RED) admirer, or simply an observer of the success their campaigns achieve, you may be tempted to emulate this cause marketing golden child’s strategy in your own programs. Remember, however, that while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it is rarely the recipe for your organization’s fundraising success. Rather than attempting a (RED)-inspired overhaul, simply apply these peer-to-peer stewardship pointers and you’ll find your organization entering the New Year with a lot more green.