Money is an exchange. If people are giving you money when they make a donation then you must be selling something. So what are you selling? Or to put it another way what are people buying?
It’s all too easy to think what people are buying is the proposition that you put forward, i.e. ‘the goat’ or its equivalent of what my money “could” buy. But that’s not really what people are buying.
In the run up to Christmas we went to the Tree Barn at Christmas Common (a real place) to buy our Christmas tree. Actually we weren’t buying a Christmas tree (even though we did). We were buying the smell of Christmas. The feeling of Christmas. We were buying an emotion.
When people make a decision to donate it’s close to the part of the brain where emotion also resides (the limbic brain). The danger with fundraising is we focus on the selling and forget about the giving – so we create an emotion that encourages someone to give. Then we rationalise their decision and give them feedback on that basis. And then we think the job is done. After all we got the donation and we gave them feedback to justify their donation.
But we still need to deliver on our side of the deal. We need to give back emotion too because that’s really what the person is buying (even if they don’t realise it). After all that’s what sparked their action.
If you stop and think about this then it becomes obvious your thank you letters can’t just be transactional and rational – effectively a dry receipt or even a few paragraphs about what the donation achieved. They need to convey emotion – hence telling a story often helps convey emotion. Ironic eh? I’m saying you need to use the rational part of your brain to realise what we need to deliver to the emotional part of the brain for supporters!
Which is why you can, and should, go further, such as pick up the phone to say thanks. Perhaps this is because the human voice has a better chance of conveying emotion. Of course it’s not limited to thank yous (although they provide a fantastic opportunity). You can provide emotion in a newsletter, or give some emotion back to an audience of supporters at an event. Surprises are emotional so surprise your donors. Create a memorable moment for them, as the chances are it will be emotional. The question you need to constantly ask is ‘how can I give back emotion?‘. That’s what they are buying. Then you fulfil your side of the deal leaving your donors … fulfilled!
And emotions get remembered too. So when they are ready to buy (i.e. donate or fundraise) again – they will be more likely to come back to you for that priceless emotion you gave them. Better still they might even talk about it.
So what will you be giving back in 2018?