Donors Shop Before They Buy

Conventional wisdom has it that donors must be first enticed then persuaded to make a gift to a nonprofit.

This is the cardinal rule of transactional fundraising.  The crassest expression of this is the gala.  The auction.  The whatever you call it.

You see this behavior in almost all fundraising appeals.  Subtly, we seek to seduce the prospective donor with our needs, our passion, even our virtue.

It’s all wrong.  Not that it doesn’t raise money.  It does.  But it’s money that’s a fraction of what’s possible.  And it’s virtually impossible to renew.

When reaching out to prospective investors, you must have a firm understanding of Principle 4 of The Eight Principles®:  Learn & Plan™ First, learn who your prospective donors are—their dreams, their character.  Then plan on how to reach to them.

Once you have a serious donor profile or set of profiles, you’re open for business.  This isn’t as hard or obtuse as it might seem.  But it does take effort, research and reflection.

Why go to all this trouble? Because donors are SHOPPING they’re not BUYING.  Shopping is the act of imagining what you might want, according to Seth Godin.

Donors imagine themselves as part of their story, their drama.  They are only attracted to a nonprofit if the organization offers them the opportunity to participate in the drama they imagine.  Their drama not the organization’s.

This has always been the case but has been in the background until recently.  Baby boomers aren’t as focused on nonprofit shopping as younger generations.  Millennials, on the other hand, change charities three times in a year, on average.

The whole dynamic is gathering speed and momentum with donors looking for where they can find their story.  Yet another driver in the pathetic donor renewal rates.

The organizations which will prosper going forward will be those who understand donor shopping and make their appeals on this basis.

Being successful in fundraising is 90% what you’re thinking and only about 10% what you’re doing. When I say “successful” I mean, having a sustained and growing philanthropic revenue stream that’s impervious to economic conditions.

Do you want this?  It’s yours.

Giving you the winning mindset is what we do.  We do it through unique training. Sophisticated yet simple.  It’s for every person in your organization. What are you waiting for?

Larry C. Johnson is the Founder of The Eight Principles and the author of the award-winning book, The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising.