Donors Buy Feelings—not stuff

In a recent post, Seth Godin makes an observation concerning consumer buying behavior that translates well into the philanthropic arena.  Principle 1 of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising® is “Donors are the Drivers™”.  Donors are the driving force behind all philanthropy.  It is about them, not us.  Those organizations that possess worthy purposes and visions can be a catalyst to that force, however.

Consider the psychology of buying something on sale—even at clearance.  What’s being purchased here?  According to Seth, it’s not a thing, rather it’s an emotion.  It’s the old rational—irrational conundrum.  Donors are moved, first and foremost, by their desire to fulfill a deeply held personal need or value.  We in the nonprofit and charitable world often miss this fact when we attempt to generate gifts with statistics—or worse—by offering a good or service in exchange for a gift.

Donors don’t want things.  They want to feel I and know that their central values and visions for a better community are being fulfilled.  To encourage greater and more lasting investments from your current donors and first-ever gifts from your soon-to-be-donors, first remember that they, the donors, are the decision makers and, second, they are seeking for a feeling, not the stuff.

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