Maximize Affinity Marketing with Strong Communications

Given today's economic climate and declines in nonprofit contributions, it's important that nonprofits leverage every fundraising strategy available. Many nonprofits have had some experience with affinity marketing, sometimes known as cause marketing, through which vendors of various products/services agree to give back a percentage of sales made to the organization and its supporters. However, not all nonprofits know what it takes to make an affinity marketing program succeed. High on the list is strong communications.

Effective communications are designed to raise awareness of affinity marketing with supporters, and convey its value in helping the organization achieve its mission. To meet these goals, these communications rely on: a proactive nonprofit, the application of all media from traditional print and direct mail to online, and ongoing exposure of the goals achieved through the affinity marketing program.

To launch and sustain a successful affinity marketing program, adhere to the following communications guidelines:
  1. Take a proactive role in communicating the affinity marketing program throughout your internal organization, Board, volunteer corps and your supporters/member base.
  2. Do not abandon other fundraising initiatives. Instead, give them an added boost with your affinity marketing program.
  3. Select your affinity marketing partner wisely. Evaluate its products/services to make sure they are of a high quality and universal in appeal to your supporters. Inquire as to its customer service policies and call center operations which you want to be certain are state-of-the-art in their technology and staffed by fully-trained and courteous customer service representatives.
  4. Utilize all types of media to communicate your affinity marketing program, including: print advertisements, public service announcements, direct mail, email messages, online/website marketing such as banner ads, landing pages, streaming video, email headers and links back to the affinity marketing partner. This will also enable you to attract new supporters/donors.
  5. Launch a multi-channel,piggyback marketing campaign that informs, educates and motivates your supporters to make purchases through the affinity marketer.
  6. Communicate the funds raised through the affinity marketing program on a consistent basis. Include in your communications how the funds are being used (i.e., to help a needy family in the community, to expand programs, towards the capital campaign for a new community center, etc.). This will generate a continued positive response to the program.
  7. Monitor your program regularly (quarterly, semi-annually and annually) by requesting reports indicating the number of sales made, funds generated and any customer service problems reported.

By following these simple guidelines, nonprofit organizations with diverse missions and of varying sizes, can maximize their gains from affinity marketing.