5 Tips for Nonprofit Marketing from Jack Sparrow

Written by Becky Fitzpatrick, Digital Marketing Associate

This past weekend I was expecting a furniture delivery. As expected, the company provided a vague wait time of 10am-4pm, during which time I could not leave my apartment in case I missed the delivery. So I spent the day thoroughly scrubbing down the floors and cabinets while binge-watching all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I think I had a bit of POTC overload, because on Monday morning I kept referencing Johnny Depp when writing strategies. So for you POTC fans, here are some of the most memorable scenes from the first movie and how they tie into your marketing goals.

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Norrington: No additional shot nor powder, a compass that doesn't point north…

[looks at Jack's sword] …and I half expected it to be made of wood. You are without doubt the worst pirate I've ever heard of.

Jack Sparrow: But you have heard of me.

No, I’m not suggesting that you produce poor content and make a scandal just to get your name out there. I’m telling you that you don’t always need the most expensive software or fancy headquarters to get work done. Find what works for your team and stick with it. If your branding is strong, your audience is motivated, and your work has proven results, then people will recognize your name (regardless of how much you spend on expensive printer paper).

Elizabeth: I am here to negotiate the cessation of hostilities against Port Royal .

Barbossa: There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we're naught but humble pirates. What is it that you want?

Elizabeth: I want you to leave and never come back.

Barbossa: I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means "no".

Keep things simple. It’s great if your organization has statistical analytics of your donations and graphs that break down each step of your programing, but save those for the annual report. Your regular communications with donors and prospects (emails, social media, event networking…) should give a broader look at your organization. Use terminology your audience understands and have your elevator pitch prepared and rehearsed.

Jack Sparrow: If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it.

Donors won’t come crawling to you. You have to build a relationship and ask for a donation! Work your way up the donor pyramid and know when to ask for a gift. Don’t ask during your first email, but don’t wait until after a potential donor builds their will and forgets to add you as a legacy gift! Know the right moment, and be prepared to act.

giphy (1)Will Turner: This is either madness... or brilliance.

Jack Sparrow: It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide.

Don’t ignore a good idea! Too often, campaign ideas are thrown to the side because they seem too big, cost too much, or are too out-of-the-box for your team. Before computers were invented the idea of being able to see a relative from across the country without leaving your couch seemed ludicrous. Moving vehicles that didn’t have horses pulling them seemed crazy and if you suggested flying to your destination you were accused of witchcraft. Your idea is new and seems scary, but that inspiration might just be what your organization needs to get its name on the nonprofit-map.

Maybe I’m bringing too much work into my weekends, or trying to extend the weekends into my workweek, but it’s impossible to switch off my fundraising brain at 6pm on Friday or to forget Johnny Depp’s witticisms Monday at 9am, without mixing up them up a bit. And that leads to my final tip: don’t completely separate your work and home life. If you’re a nonprofit trying to raise funds, then your job is to appeal to people in their daily lives. Bringing your personal experiences, preferences, and opinions into your work will make it more human and personable!

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