Yeshiva University's Alumni Affairs department is currently utilizing an extremely poor marketing strategy. Basically, it consists of bombarding alumni with emails with the titles 'What if you could help Nathan realize his dreams?' and the following image:
The idea is that if I simply give money to Yeshiva University, I'll suddenly be able to help this kid change the world. This is stupid on many levels:
1. Many kids dream dreams. How will my gift of money actually enable Nathan to do something that half the world has dreamed of doing at some point or another?
2. Why do I care about Nathan? What is he to me?
3. Where will my gift of money actually go? Does it go directly to Nathan? What's Nathan's email address and how do I get to see whether he actually follows up on what he is planning to accomplish?
Now let's explain what a good marketing campaign does. A good marketing campaign is relevant to me. It pulls my heartstrings. It makes me feel nostalgic for my college, which was like a good friend and which enabled me to take on the world. It makes me want to be back there. It makes me want to give back to my college because I want to thank them for everything they've done and everything they've enabled me to do. Case in point: my former highschool, North Shore Country Day, is currently running a 30 MILLION DOLLAR campaign (remember, this is a high school!). And they've raised most of that money. How did they do that? Well, for one, they made a fundraising video which speaks to the heart of what the school is, what it does, and makes me wish I was back there right now. Watch it here.
Alternatively, you can take the NCSY approach. Your focus is to inspire people. You show them how your program directly benefits the Jewish people. It benefits me and you. When I look at their brochures and see inspirational photos of teenagers who would otherwise know nothing about their Judaism praying, it touches something inside of me. Or at least NCSY hopes it does. Check out NCSY's National Chinese Auction taking place here. Or download the PDF of their Chinese Auction booklet here. Look how brilliantly they've interwoven photos and quotes about their relevant prizes with the photos. (See page 12 for an example). A lot of people are going to give money to them. Why? A) It benefits them. They might win a prize. B) Those are really pretty glossy inspirational photographs of real-life kids who are being helped by the organization. And everyone knows a kid who goes to NCSY.
So in short, marketing needs to touch or benefit me directly, it needs to emphasize the connection I feel toward your organization, and I need to see the direct positive effects of what you are doing for me or a larger extension of me, my Jewish people. So if I were Yeshiva University, I would work on putting out a video that emphasized the many clubs and extracurriculars they offer at their university (images of students fencing, performing plays, the Maccabeats singing, the science club at public school etc), kids talking about their positive experiences, and a diverse array of kids (Sephardi kids, kids from other countries, kids from very different Jewish backgrounds etc) in order to demonstrate exactly how YU benefited and currently benefits me. Maybe I'd even go further and include images of YU rabbis around the globe and so forth, really stressing that YU is everywhere.
But Nathan, whoever he is, just isn't going to cut it.