DC chapter discusses the intersection between development and communications

By Emily Howard, Intern at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

The Washington, D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council met at the Center for Religious Liberty on March 4, 2015. Guest speakers Kari Bert of Bread for the World, Daphne Price of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the BJC's Taryn Deaton talked about how communications professionals can help meet fundraising goals.

Part of the formula to any successful nonprofit is the ability to fundraise and attract people to its cause. The D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council sat down with three development directors of religious nonprofits to dissect this topic further at their March meeting.

Daphne Price is the development director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The RAC is a large organization focused on Jewish social justice and legislative matters. They are an advocacy group who pursue public policies that share Jewish values.

Kari Bert works for Bread for the World, a nonprofit Christian organization that encourages our nation’s leaders to help end hunger at home and abroad. They seek to change policies and programs that allow hunger and poverty to flourish.

Taryn Deaton represented the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit organization that defends religious freedom for all and the separation between church and state. The BJC educates and advocates for religious liberty.

The three development leaders discussed how fundraisers must utilize communication tools to reach out to past, present, and potential donors, and they shared specific examples from their experiences. The Baptist Joint Committee discussed their work creating video messages that thank donors while inviting new ones to give. The RAC sends donors extra messages concerning a campaign or event that might appeal to their individual interests. Bread for the World offers a secondary action to donation, such as committing to pray or send a letter to a congressman. They also ask parishes to be involved in events or campaigns in order to expand their resources and the amount of people they are reaching.

All three speakers reiterated that a strong communications strategy is needed for successful fundraising, and they gave useful tips to help communicators and fundraisers.

  • Create a clear, consistent message on different platforms and a strong brand identity

  • Demonstrate the impact of your organization, and make investors feel good about donating

  • Build trust and make the donor the hero

  • Use stories that demonstrate importance and impact to keep people interested; make it feel personal and avoid statistics.

  • Share compelling content that evokes emotion and motivates people to give

  • Continue to increase involvement of members by allowing them to get involved in campaigns, petitions, etc.

  • Employ urgency and use deadlines

These tips provided a practical guide for any developer or communicator who wishes to see their organization expand and welcome old and new supporters.

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