Why you need to market nature

Your environmental organization is amazing. Really, it is.

Your staff are passionate, intelligent people who work hard every day across the planet, in cubicles, in rain forests, in deserts, in courtrooms…

You have a plan to save the world, and you’ve made progress with it.

What you perhaps haven’t made progress with is getting your word out there.

Sure, you have a beautiful website that you’ve hired professionals to create and manage. You attend local events and entered your business into Wikipedia. You’ve made enough to both pay your staff and fund your projects that keep your organization going. You’ve probably even had success fundraising. Maybe great success.

But there’s somewhere you’re failing. 

Why do I know this?   Because I am your prospective donor.   And one of three things have happened:

  1. I’ve never heard of you, regardless of both my interest (believe me, I’m interested) and your efforts.
  2. I’ve heard of you, yet haven’t forked over any cash or volunteering hours (this is likely, even though I totally care about your mission, really).
  3. I’ve heard of you, and donated my money (this is less likely, but possible).

Nature needs your help, but not in the way you think 

The people in category 1 are either not interested in the environment at all, and therefore aren’t looking for you, or you don’t have your marketing materials in the right place.

If you feel like the majority of the people of the world land in category 3, then we can part ways. But before you go, are you sure you really have enough? Would the rest of your organization think so too?

The people in category 2 are where we are going to focus our attention. Because they are the reason your organization hasn’t vaulted through your fundraising goals just yet.

So, if I care about what you’re doing, then why aren’t I donating?

These days, when an unsolicited donation letter arrives in my mailbox, I usually open it, but it almost always goes in the trash.


Because we live in an era of preemptive judgment. I don’t even answer my phone if it’s not a number I recognize. Why in the world would I send my money to a company I don’t know?

Nature needs you to step it up a notch. She needs you to focus some of that hard-earned grant money and fundraising money on forging better relationships.

Love isn’t just for the birds 

So, what can you do?   You’ve laid bare your management strategies, your previous year’s progress, your projects for the next year.   You’ve hired professional photographers and web designers, recent grads and experts.

But nature needs more than the combined intellect of your science department, your beautifully designed website, your fundraising specialist, and your administration staff.

In a nutshell, you need me to fall in love with you… just a little bit.

It’s not my fault I haven’t fallen for you yet. It’s common knowledge the environment is in rough shape. Everyone knows it’s worthy to save the rain forests and provide clean drinking water.

But the demand on my attention is overwhelming. In my pocket I hold not only access to my entire life, but my friends lives, my work life, and instant access to the thousands of other nonprofits and environmental organizations out there who are competing for my very limited funds.

If I have $15 to send you, wouldn’t the environment be better served if I switch out a few light bulbs instead?

Beat the path down with…patience. 

I need for you to show me you care, to form a lasting, loving relationship with me.

I might not donate on the first pass, or even the fifth or sixth. But as you continue to woo me, I’ll probably sign up for your newsletter.   I’ll prick my ears when I hear a story about you on my local public radio station. I’ll follow you on Instagram, Like you Facebook and maybe even re-Tweet your posts.

Fast forward an indeterminate length of time, and this cynical, penny-pinching judgmental prospect is half in love.

That is when you finally pop the question.

Send me a love letter, in the mail, full of praise for yourself and clearly showing me all the juicy details of what’s in it for me if I commit to a long-term relationship.

And at the end of it, ask for my money.

You can (probably) be sure I’ll give it to you.


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