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Should you talk with your donors about politics?

4 May 2017


 May 4, 2017
All marketing is political now

Have you seen this video ad by Heineken? This is the antidote to that Pepsi ad.

What does the video do?

It has three sets of people meet for the first time, and build bar stools together, then build a whole bar together. It asks them, what 3 things do we have in common? And they get to know each other.

Then they watch videos that show them how they have a conflict with each other.

  1. One couple has a man who doesn’t believe climate change exists, and another one thinks we don’t do enough about climate change.
  2. One has a man who thinks women should obey men, combined with a woman who considers herself 100% feminist.
  3. And finally, one has a man who thinks trans people are confused, paired with a transgender woman.


They are then invited to take out a beer and sit, or leave.

They all decide to sit and have a beer with each other, and stay. It’s like a reality show, in miniature.

What this does is it makes me hopeful about our future. We have so much divisiveness in our societies, whether you’re in France, the UK, or the US, and this video shows that we can still find common ground underneath it all.

It reminds me of this tweet.

All marketing is political now

All marketing is political now- Umair Haque

Alexa Clay says, “Advertisers are becoming our moral compass”

Umair Haque replies, “All marketing is political now, the best and worst most intensely so.”


What this brings up for me is, at what point does talking about politics become unavoidable?

How much bad stuff has to happen before we MUST talk about it? 

What does that mean for us, marketing our nonprofits?

Are we advertising with a moral compass?

Don’t you give me “we don’t market our nonprofit!”

Yes you jolly well do!

Every time you make a business card, that’s marketing. Every brochure, postcard, website post, speaking engagement or email is marketing your nonprofit.

Now that we’ve established what marketing is, and that you do it, if all marketing is political now, if you’re putting a moral compass out there every time you market, what does that mean for your nonprofit?



TO get Political or NOT get Political, THAT is the question.

Does it mean you ignore what’s going on on the world’s stage, because you might alienate donors?

Does it mean you don’t have anything to do with politics so “it’s not our business”?

Well, is that really true?


What if what’s happening right now politically IS your business?

Even if you think white supremacists spewing hate at the federal government level is not your business-

Even if you think, “well there’s nothing we can do so let’s just carry on”-

Think about your donors-trapped in the endless news cycle.

If your donors are worried about the news-worried about people who are different than they are- how can your nonprofit come in to bring people together?

What if it’s more important than ever to draw people together, and recognize our commonalities rather than our differences?

What if your nonprofit could be the key to holding our communities together?

Even if you think that your nonprofit won’t be directly affected by


If all of this is happening, just how much more has to go wrong before you start talking about it?

Do you think by not talking about it, it’s going to go away?

At what point does talking about politics become unavoidable, to you?

At what point does it become wrong to stay silent in the face of attacks on our society’s most vulnerable?

You still have a role to play, if all marketing is political now.

You can help your donors focus on the right thing.

You can help your donors feel more hopeful, and make them feel like there IS something they can do.

You can talk about things that really do matter, what’s really going on, and the world we should be trying to create, instead of focusing on all that’s wrong, and instead of irrelevant arguments.

Umair Haque Tweets

So, are you going to speak up and talk about what’s going on?

Or are you going to keep your head down and pretend it doesn’t matter?

If you choose to remain silent, let me ask you, how much more has to happen for this to matter to your nonprofit?


What is YOUR nonprofit crisis communications strategy right now?

4 responses on “Should you talk with your donors about politics?

  1. Eliza Olson says:

    In Canada, a registered Charity cannot support a political party or candidate. Charities can spend up to 10% of their budget on political activities. Then you have to decide what is “political?” If it is small “p” politics, then I think we are doing it all the time regardless of the issues. There are ways to be non-partisan. e.g. ask all political candidates the same questions and then publish their answers.

    • Mazarine says:

      hi Eliza,

      Thank goodness you’re in Canada! Sometimes I wish I were there too. To be clear, I’m not talking about supporting a political party or candidate, I’m simply asking to talk about the issues at hand. What are our values? What do we believe is TRULY important to make a better world? And who is supporting these values? How can we fight back when our funding or values are under attack?

      See what I mean Eliza?


  2. Marcia Funke says:

    If the subject of politics should come up, I would dance around it and not discuss politics with a donor. Our country is so divided, and if you express your opinion about something, someone may disagree with you and will take it personally, and then change their minds about a donation.

    No, I wouldn’t discuss politics, or religion. Either one is too personal.

    Keep it on a professional level. Visit about about the weather instead, or what you did last Sunday, or some sports activity.

    • Mazarine says:

      Thanks for your input Marcia!

      Right now many of us have threatened funding streams, and we have to find out a way to talk about this. We can’t just keep talking about the weather or sports when lives are at stake. This is a tremendous emergency, and a tremendous opportunity, and it would be a shame to waste it!


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