Topic: Strategy | Reading time: 6-8 minutes

Some time ago I read an interesting article by Joe Freitag, Brand and Product Manager at Kaenon, outlining his observations of the differences between a marketing strategy and a brand strategy. I thought I would build on these observations as I am frequently asked to explain the role brand and traditional marketing activities play in fundraising.

Firstly, we’ll discuss them individually and then explore the relationship between all three.

Brand Strategy

“Brand is not marketing”, Joe tells us. Your brand is the holistic reputation of your organisation. It’s the resonance between you and your audience – and it exists solely in the mind of your prospect (the audience whose attention you seek). Why? Because you put it there. It consists of many parts, like character or personality. It might flatter or motivate you. It may create perceived value, trust, priority or urgency, but it always should have your prospect at the centre of the story – their story.

Your brand strategy will clearly define your organisation’s purpose and demonstrate your client’s part in that purpose. Otherwise what’s the point?

According to Al RiesLaura Ries’ book The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: “the power of a brand is in its power to influence [people’s] behaviour” and this is why it must be defined and developed before any marketing or fundraising takes place.

Marketing Strategy

Unlike a brand strategy, marketing strategies should always be time-specific. If you’ve not heard of SMART Goals – hire a coach! A brand strategy is ongoing, like personal development or the Simpsons.

Your marketing strategy is a function of your brand strategy – the tools you’ll use to leverage open the minds, wallets and obedience of your prospects. Essentially, it’s a way to reserve a place in your prospect’s mind.

A marketing strategy should always be led by your audience. Understanding their behaviour is key to a successful campaign. In today’s online world it is incredibly affordable and simple to rapidly test your theories about consumer behaviour. You can A/B test your marketing deliverables in hours. What used to cost thousands of invested money and time can now be conceived, released, refined and repeated in days.

A marketing strategy doesn’t have to be a thesis or instruction manual – it’s likely to change often as you roll it out. Similarly to the brand strategy, it does need to be written and shared with your team to ensure you’re all paddling in the same direction.

“If your brand is the football team, your marketing strategy is the coach’s playbook.”

Fundraising Strategy

Before you jump into asking people for their money, or even worse instruct others to ask people for cash on your behalf, you need a visionor theme. In today’s not-for-profit marketplace, it’s getting pretty crowded. The reason why fundraising strategies such as the Ice-Bucket Challenge, Movember and ‘#nomakeupselfie campaign’ were successful, was because as well as being well executed – they were memorable. They all laid out their towels on the sun-loungers of our minds – underpinned by a clear brand strategy.

A fundraising strategy should have context, a clear understanding of the past and a rough idea of future trends in the sector. It would be pointless to compete with another viral photo-campaign when #nomakeupselfie’s were bouncing around Instagram.

Some other elements a Fundraising Strategy include could be:

  • An acquisition strategy. Where and how are your donors/ fundraisers going to pick up the gauntlet?
  • A clear and specific breakdown. Where are the revenue streams going to come from?
  • Clear and ‘easy’ revenue collection points. Making it easy for donors to donate, fundraisers to raise will help any strategy’s end-game. Retailers and banks have been refining it for years; consistently making it easier to spend your money and borrow more. Think about it: credit cards, chip and pin, contactless… pretty soon I’m only going to have to think about something and Amazon will deliver it.
  • Make more return than investment. Simple.

How these elements can work together

Understanding your brand strategy should give you a clear identity to which an audience can relate. How well your marketing or fundraising strategy ‘fits’ within your brand strategy will enable you to determine the efficacy of both. While this is rather vague, it’s best explained by citing some familiar examples.

If your brand strategy talks about the value of innovation and beautiful design, like Apple’s – then the natural marketing strategy should focus on leaps in innovative products with a premium price tag. You will notice all new product launches are led by Apple’s CEO, firstly Steve Jobs then Tim Cook, bestowing Apple’s latest technological innovations.

A fundraising strategy should be no different. Give your loyal tribe something they can get their teeth into – and will enjoy going back for seconds. Movember, a campaign to raise awareness and funding for men’s cancer – by growing a moustache. This will not only attract the right kind of enthusiastic supporter, but the right kind of support. Movember gains a significant proportion of it’s revenue from strategic commercial partnerships with L’Oréal Men Expert, Gillette and Oris Swiss Watches.

The fundamental difference between a marketing strategy and fundraising strategies are obvious – essentially, it’s in the outcome. However, both should achieve a sense that your audience is buying into your brand and what you organisation stands for. It represents a mutual exchange of values.

For insights and observations, tips and titbits, please subscribe to our newsletter The Monchüverse. If you have any thoughts or would like to contribute, please feel free to contact us at

Thanks for reading.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter: