by Ashley Kasprzak, JVA Consulting
October was breast cancer awareness month and hardly anyone could miss it. Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, brilliantly spread the message further than ever before. From mom and pop tattoo shops to the White House, people were abuzz about the importance of breast cancer research and treatment.
I recently asked my husband what he thought of all the hype. He said, “It’s amazing what can happen when someone follows through on a promise.” He reminded me that Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything she could to combat breast cancer by promoting early detection, helping others receive treatment and supporting research.
Several years ago my mom gave me a pair of Nike tennis shoes with a pink ribbon stitched near the toe. I liked them, but thought they would be out of style quickly. I was wrong. The trend of the pink ribbon seems here to stay and that’s a good thing. Because breast cancer directly affects approximately 1.3 million women in the world annually and because it is a compelling cause without detractors, millions of people have become champions who donate cash and volunteer by recruiting other supporters.
For nonprofit leaders, there’s much to be learned. Although JVA has had the privilege to work with several Susan G. Komen affiliates, I don’t have firsthand experience with any of the staff or volunteers, but from their mass marketing, I have been able to pick up on some of the very effective fundraising best practices they use to get their message out. Based on my observations, Komen’s best practices include:
- Create a simple message and repeat it often with many different voices
- Link to new networks of supporters each year
- Let corporations spread your message; the reach can be powerful (look at all those NFL football players who wore pink on game days in October!)
- Devise a visual symbol that can be easily replicated on such things as buildings, t-shirts and even blenders
- Empower supporters to fundraise for you
In particular, the way Komen empowers supporters has really made an impression on me this year. I often train organizations on the importance of getting supporters to fundraise for them. With limited staff time and tight budgets, it often doesn’t make sense for staff to run all over their communities coordinating small events. When fundraising champions do it for you, it can be wonderful way to reach new donors. King Soopers, for example, is a longtime Komen supporter. In King Soopers’ October newsletter (yes, I read it; yes, I am a bit geeky), there was a feature story with step-by-step instructions for how people can host their own parties, walks or runs for Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Wow! I applaud this cross marketing and public service announcement.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation Web site indicates that they now taken their message global. It will be amazing to watch them continue to grow.