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.