A few months ago I wrote about some obnoxiously stupid nonprofit marketing that won an award from D&AD, an ad-industry organization in the UK. (See Stupid nonprofit ads: garbage in, garbage out.
Mark Phillips, of the excellent queer ideas blog, also commented on the same work. He was later invited to write at D&AD about the problem with ad-agency-style creativity when applied to nonprofits, at Fundraising would be better without this award.
Mark really put his finger on what's wrong with the ad industry approach to nonprofit marketing:
... expensive re-brands and advertising campaigns which tend to push donors and charities further apart by swapping an authentic experience of helping another human being, or fighting for a cause you believe in, with a 'game-changing' creative idea accompanied by another strict set of brand guidelines that demonstrate just how great the charity is.
The secret to successful fundraising is not a "supply-side" brand that does a great job of bragging about the nonprofit.
The secret is a donor-side fundraising offer that's authentic, emotional, and important to the donor.
Supply-side branding is what produces those gloriously stupid nonprofit ads. But worse than that, it's responsible for a lot of garden-variety ineffective fundraising. Stuff that will never get featured in a blog because it's not stupid, just weak or misdirected. These efforts waste billions of dollars in missed revenue every year. They are strangling many once-noble organizations.
If you want to raise funds, you're going to have to do fundraising. If you don't like that, you need to find a different profession, because you will not succeed in this one.