My opinion is that “reality TV” is about as far from reality as we can get.

But here’s a genuine reality you can’t avoid: “Horizontal marketing is the new reality for just about every organization,” to quote Seth Godin.

This applies to charities, associations, and for-profit businesses.

As Godin says, horizontal marketing itself isn’t a new idea.

But accepting it and putting it to work to help your organization grow is new for most of us.

Perhaps the toughest aspect of horizontal marketing is the loss of control. Your donors, members, advocates, and all your supporters are in control – not you.

What is horizontal marketing & fundraising?

It’s when you create a remarkable nonprofit. Next you write fascinating stories about the people your supporters help. And then you make it easy for your supporters to spread these stories throughout their networks from person to person.

The reality of horizontal marketing and fundraising is … the control is in the hands of passionate outsiders. People who don’t work for your nonprofit but are vital to its success. Yes, we’re back to those donors, members, advocates and even prospects.

As a fundraiser and marketer, you’re probably more comfortable having the control. Letting go is hard to do. Then again, creating powerful stories (and easy ways to share them) is no small hurdle to jump either.

Oh, you still need to do your outbound marketing where you cling to some measure of control: direct mail, email, Facebook ads, Google Adwords, press releases, tweets, etc.

But you must quickly accept and embrace the fact that the real control lies with your supporters. Release control to the market.

The good news is that horizontal marketing can yield exciting results if you play by its rules. Yup; this is the reality of today’s fundraising market. As Godin says, “…you can no longer ignore it.”

Related posts:

Who is spreading the word about your nonprofit? … Who is the most loyal?

Kung Fu Nonprofit Marketer … be flexible and adapt as market and donors change

Insanity or a happy world? … It’s time for a change