Apply Value-First Marketing at your nonprofit today. A real case study!

Applying lessons from The Dog Tag Experience at your nonprofit | Value First In-Action: Part II

This is a followup from Value First In-Action Part I: How a World War II Hero Made a Supporter Out of Me. Read that post first to learn how the National World War II Museum seamlessly integrates museum experiences with their supporter asks. Then come back here to learn how to apply this to your organization.

If you recall from Part I, I was lucky enough to visit the impressive World War II Museum in New Orleans last November, where my awesome, immersive historical experience was brilliantly integrated into the museum’s donor cultivation using Value First Marketing.
The National WWII Museum in New Orleans

This impressive exhibit, storytelling, and communications feat is The Dog Tag Experience.

However, recreating The Dog Tag Experience may be well beyond your budget constraints.

That’s okay, because many of the Value First fundamentals, are very cheap and easy to integrate into your organization’s marketing.  Start with these 4 steps.

1. Capitalize on your REAL Money Maker – Your Org’s Core Benefit

What do you support? And why do other people help you support this? Many organizations get so wrapped up in their initiatives – preserving the trails, decreasing pollution, feeding those in need, ending a disease, you get the idea – that they forget about the bigger picture.

“We’re all working to create a world that we all want to live in. What is the unique benefit that this world gets from your organization’s success?”

This benefit is something that all of us share – cleaner air, healthier habits, better education, safer comunities…

If you’re a visitor organization (perhaps you support a giant war museum), this is easy – it’s the place you support. How can you enhance their visit? The Dog Tag Experience turned this up to 11, but even a simple trip planner can be a huge help to someone new.

Grand Canyon Trip Planner

If you’re not a visitor-base organization, your opportunity to enhance your core benefit for the world might be a little more abstract. If your organization is a thought leader, try packaging up some of your unique knowledge for everyday use – 10 tips, a guide to “XYZ” relevant task.

A great example comes from Morris Animal Foundation, a leader in animal health research.  They were able to repurpose their deep knowledge of in animal diseases to create a guide for you and I to effectively check our furry friends for worrisome, or not so worrisome, lumps and bumps.

2. Start the Conversation with Value

The welcome cultivation email I received from the National World War II Museum
Remember from Part I what that first email I received (see left) after my museum visit was?

It was a link to the videos from My Dog Tag Experience. All of Joe Crain’s story, compiled into one easy place for me – a helpful reminder of the value his story added to my museum experience. I’d be willing to bet this message has pretty high engagement for the National World War I Museum too.

Notice how a donation is far from the focus here.

When it comes to your organization, you can continue the conversation you started in step 1, with a value-based follow-up like this.

“Thanks for coming by ABC museum. Here are some awesome ways to keep learning about abc subject.”
“Enjoy your trip to XYZ park? Check out this amazing collection of xyz photos for your desktop.”
“Was that QRS guide helpful? Here are some followup tips from the world’s leading qrs expert.”

3. Use Storytelling to Connect on a Personal Level

The National World War II Museum nailed this! The story of Joe Crain was not only a great one, but they made it feel like my story. Those around me had different WWII heroes that they got to learn about, but the story of Joe Crain was unique to me.

“Stories are a nonprofit’s most ready currency. Make those stories unique to your constituents and you’ve doubled their value.”

4. And Continue to Cultivate with Value

Value-based cultivation ultimately works up to a donation ask. But not every communication should be an ask (In fact, here are 4 that aren’t). Iterate on your value-based follow-up throughout the rest of your drip campaigns, but don’t beat that one Value-First subject to a pulp.  I will only read so many more messages about Joe Crain.

Keep thinking of new and exciting ways to keep providing direct value to your supporter. This will help your constituents experience you Core Benefit – that’s the greater goal.

Supporters that have personally experienced the Core Benefit that your organization provides are much more likely to donate. Trust us, we’ve crunched the numbers, and we’re betting our business on it!


If your head is spinning at this point, that’s okay. Putting Value First Marketing into practice is time-consuming and takes a fully integrated marketing team.

However, if you can articulate your organization’s Core Benefit, you’re already 50% there.

And if you’re not sure where to go from there, give us a shout. We’re here to help.

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