By: Valeria Basso
Symphonic Communications Consulting
Here is a fact you most likely don’t want to hear but need to: 98% of your marketing is a waste of money. It’s just noise and your audience is hardly noticing it.
The truth is that most non-profits miss the mark with their marketing because their message fails to answer a simple question: What’s in it for the donors?
You can tell uplifting stories about how your organization is changing lives but if you don’t show your donors how your work impacts and matters to them, those stories are going to be largely ineffective. Creating empathy is important but, sadly, it is not enough, especially when we are bombarded by so many heart-tugging stories that we start becoming desensitized.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-INTEREST
Even when it comes to donating to charity, our decisions come mostly from a place of self-interest. It’s basic human psychology. Whenever we part with our hard-earned money, it’s because we are trying to fulfill our basic need to “survive and thrive.” That means that our investment must help us do one of the following:
• Healing (physically, emotionally, or spiritually);
• Overcoming a life-defining challenge;
• Improving our economic status;
• Affirming our social identity;
• Finding a greater meaning in life.
Let’s look at this through the lens of three different types of donors.
1. Donors who have a direct connection to your cause. These people are direct beneficiaries of your work or have a loved one who is, or they want to support you because you are trying to solve a problem they struggled with in the past. They see that you can help them heal, overcome a personal challenge, or improve their status.
For them, the emotional investment and the sense of urgency are already there. You just have to remind them of that and show why your approach – compared to similar charities – is the one that can make the real difference for them.
2. Corporate sponsors looking for causes to support. Companies want to know how you are going to help them:
• Expand their brand exposure and connect with the right audience (i.e. improve their economic status);
• Reinforce what they are about (i.e. social status/identity affirmation/meaning).
3. Donors who have an interest in the cause but no direct connection to it. This is your toughest audience. The emotional investment and the sense of urgency are not as strong because your work might only affect them tangentially, if at all.
What motivates these donors is the need for identity affirmation and meaning, so you have to show them how your organization aligns with their values and the kind of world they want to contribute to building.
You can start with three steps.
CREATE A MESSAGE THAT HITS THE SPOT
1. Craft a manifesto. A manifesto is a series of statements that explain what the organization really stands for (and against!). It’s different from a mission statement, which is usually a cut-and-dried pronouncement that doesn’t paint a complete picture of the organization, nor does it show its true heart. A manifesto, on the other hand, is bold, passionate, and energizing. It tells people what is worth fighting for and why. It puts a fire in their belly by bringing new meaning into their lives. It helps them feel a strong affinity with your organization, one based on shared beliefs and a vision for what the world can be…if people take action.
• Include no more than 8 short statements, each focused on one belief or idea.
• Use words carefully to pack each statement with meaning.
• Start each statement with “We believe that….” It will help you focus on what you stand for.
• Include what you stand against, which is often more powerful that what you stand for.
2. Make it visible. Publish it on your website and your marketing material.
3. Tie everything you do to it. Every time you tell a success story, it should be clear how it ties back to the vision in your manifesto. Your audience should not have to connect the dots on their own.
In a world of irrelevant messages that only create noise, there are only two things that make us pay attention and take action: a threat to our life balance and an attack to our values and beliefs.
Use your manifesto to tap into this energy and your message will no longer fall on deaf ears.
Need help crafting a strong manifesto? Contact Valeria at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention Big Buzz to get a free 1-hour strategy session.