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Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Part 2 - Dr. Adrian Sargeant's 7 principles of donor loyalty
Tom Ahern

March, 2014

Dr. Adrian Sargeant is a marketing professor specializing in charities. In his groundbreaking research, he uncovered 7 chief reasons why donors will sometimes stay with a charity for years. The previous issue of this newsletter talked about reasons #1 and #2.

Loyalty reason #3. They're aware of consequences

You clever devil, you.

Somehow ... thanks to your uncommon powers of persuasion (and, of course, message repetition; because saying something a 100 times is light years more effective than saying it a few times), you have trained your donors to firmly believe that, "Someone could be HURT if I do NOT give."

... OR ...

Alternatively (since you like to accentuate the positive), your donors now firmly believe, "Someone will be HELPED if I DO give."

Nonprofits have fallen into a logic trap that does them no good at all. They have this theory that makes perfect sense on one level: "If we show people how great we are as an agency, they'll support us. The more we talk about our programs, our successes, our data, the more money we'll make."


Look, the donor assumes your agency pretty much does what it says it does.

Save the Children saves children. Food for the Poor feeds the poor. Crisis Aid International brings aid to places in crisis around the globe. (Crisis Aid is a personal favorite: a tiny faith-based charity doing huge good in tough neighborhoods like Somalia.)

To keep donors loyal and happy and giving, you only have to connect two dots.

Dot #1: the generous, wonderful, compassionate, kind donor.

Dot #2: the good outcome that your donors' grand and empathetic hearts will make possible (children saved, poor fed, people in crisis helped).

Connect those two dots.

Only those two dots. Your specific charity is just a footnote to those two dots.

Warning: Ditch ahead!

Fundraisers, charities, board chairs, EDs: resist the temptation to elevate your footnote status into a big third dot.

No third dot! No third dot! No third dot!

And what, you ask, would that third dot be?

It would consist of the usual words and pictures: a nonprofit endlessly yapping on about itself and how much it does and how amazing its work is.

Save your nonprofit's boasts and drawn-out explanations of programs and crushing data-lanches for the employee orientation package.

Your donors will NOT respond to that stuff.

Just the opposite, in fact. When you insert a big fat third dot all about you, donors give less and leave sooner.

Get over yourselves

Nonprofits are a means to an end, for the donor.

The truest words I've ever heard about donor motivation are these from marketing's philosopher-king, Seth Godin: "We support a charity or a soccer team or a perfume because it gives us a chance to love something about ourselves."

When people give to you, they're not loving the charity. They're loving themselves.


Loyalty reason #4. You've connected

Say it loud. Say it proud. "You." More on that in the next issue, as we continue our exploration of Adrian Sargeant's 7 principles of donor loyalty....


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