People should care about your issue. They should also eat their broccoli.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes on nonprofit marketing:

“Activists are great at creating broccoli strategies; we are fantastic as pushing out a product or a service that people should need because it’s good for them.”

That’s from Momentum: Ignititing Social Change in the Connected Age by Allison Fine.

I’ll pass on the cafeteria-style, frozen, re-heated, overcooked, bland-with-a-sour-taste mass market broccoli. I don’t care how good it is for me, I won’t eat it.

But if you offer me some fresh, locally-grown broccoli with a balsamic reduction sauce, then you’ll have me coming back for seconds.

It reminds me of a point that Peter Brinkerhoff. It was something like this:

Nonprofit services are all about needs. Marketing is all about wants. As any of you who know someone who has gone through the steps knows, they needed help long before they wanted help.

If we want to build a movement for a better world, we won’t get there by chiding people for not eating their broccoli or for scolding people for not caring about the issues we think they care about.

We’ll get there by understanding what they like and providing them with things they want to learn about and get involved in.

2 thoughts on “People should care about your issue. They should also eat their broccoli.

  1. Elaine Fogel

    Hi, Chuck. In my experience, moving people to take action, make a donation, or get involved has little to do with things they want to learn. In many cases, it’s about hitting them over the head with something that grabs their attention in order to get a response. They may not even want to learn more, but for that moment in time, they are moved enough to sign a petition, make a gift or take a requested action.

    Then it’s up to organizations’ marketing communications tactics to convey more messages to try to increase engagement, step by step. If it turns out that the subject or mission is close to their hearts, the engagement may come sooner. If not, it may come later or not at all. That’s where market research comes in so our messages are targeted and give us a greater chance at response and engagement.

  2. admin Post author

    Excellent point, Elaine. While many people are suspicious of market research, it’s a useful tool to help us understand where our audience is. That way, we are better able to follow the old organizing dictate, start where the people you’re trying to organize are, not where you are.


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