How One Nonprofit is Turning a New TV Show to its Advantage

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Nonprofits ask me all the time how they can raise more money with cause marketing.

I tell them it takes three things: brand, brand, brand. A good brand is like a magnet that attracts businesses. Just ask St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Product Red and Share Our Strength to name a few.

A nonprofit brand is about impact and communicating that impact. Impact is the fire. Communication is the gasoline. Sometimes you can find an additional accelerant that creates a bonfire!

That's what Wine to Water did last month when they launched the Miracle Machine. It was a harmless but a well executed hoax that got them the kind of publicity you can't buy.

Another nonprofit that's feeding the fire of its brand is George Washington's Mount Vernon. The accelerant is a new, popular AMC show on spies during the American Revolution. It's called Turn.

I've watched the first two episodes and I like it! The show is helping fill the void left by the ending of my favorite AMC show, The Walking Dead.

Here's how Mount Vernon is linking Turn to George Washington's home.

Beginning this month and running through June, Mount Vernon is offering spy training to visitors.

Delve into the 18th century world of double agents, invisible ink, and coded messages during Spy Training at Mount Vernon, but beware – you never know who might be a British spy! Learn about Revolutionary War concealment codes and work to decode a message from your fellow patriots. A select number of guests will have the chance to write a message in Washington’s preferred concealment method, invisible ink!

What's great is that Mount Vernon is linking popular culture with ... culture! Believe me, Mount Vernon isn't selling out. Instead, they are making their brand more interesting, tangible and relevant.

Whose coattails are you riding to success? If one of America's greatest presidents has no qualms about it, neither should you. That's no lie.