There’s a word with so much destructive power that you should never use it when talking about or evaluating a marketing effort. You may find it hard to believe a word could have such appalling magic, but it’s true. Here’s the baleful word: I
As in “I like it,” “I don’t like it,” “I would never respond to that,” etc. The minute you use the word I when talking about nonprofit marketing, you leave reality behind and enter a topsy-turvy world where it’s hard to do good work. Because you are not your donor.
  • You are probably younger.
  • You know too much—perhaps too much to see the simple clarity of the issue at hand.
  • Like it or not, you have more agendas than the work at hand.
  • You are paying too much attention.  You’re being paid to read this stuff!  Your donor isn’t.
All these things can add up to a screwy perception of your work. You will almost certainly get it wrong in a lot of ways. The best way out is to eliminate I from your vocabulary. It takes a real abnegation of self to do nonprofit marketing right. The more power you can take out of your hands and put in your donors’—the better you’ll do.  Always. Try it.
imageJeff Brooks is creative director at Merkle, a direct-response agency serving the nonprofit world.  He blogs at the Donor Power Blog.