- Sat, March 13 2010
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Homer Simpson for Nonprofits: The Truth about How People Really Think and What It Means to Your Cause is the title of a new eBook I just finished with Alia McKee and Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies. It’s a guide to behavioral economics for nonprofit leaders, and we’re having a free call on it next week!
REGISTER HERE FOR THE FREE TELECONFERENCE on Tuesday at 1ET: Homer Simpson for Nonprofits
One of the key points we make in the eBook is that in nonprofit marketing and fundraising, we need to do a better job sticking to social norms, not market norms.
Humans have two distinct decision making rulebooks: social norms, which are governed by values of community selflessness and altruism, and market norms, which are governed by calculated self-interest.
Social norms are stronger motivators than market norms. In experiments, under many circumstances people will work harder for free than they will for money. Not long ago, AARP asked lawyers to offer services to the elderly at a reduced rate (market norms). The response was dismal. Then they asked for lawyers to provide FREE services (social norms). Lawyers tripped over one another to volunteer.
If you are a fundraiser, you live every day on the razor’s edge between norms. Major donor fundraising operates primarily on social values. Direct marketing-based fundraising operates on a weird hybrid. What does a major donor get for his or her support?: a sense of camaraderie with like-minded philanthropists; influence and access to organizational leaders (which makes them feel even more a part of things); and the potent psychological rewards of knowing they have made a difference in making the world a better place. What does a low-dollar donor get? Tote bags. Water bottles. Calendars. Certificates of adoption. It’s a largely market exchange.
Scrutinize your appeals: Are you emphasizing social norms or market exchanges? Make sure you are focused on the emotional rewards of giving. Segment to avoid a hybrid. Some non-donors and low-dollar donors will solely be motivated to give because of market norms — they want the certificate or the calendar. But others are looking for that emotional connection. Identify who in your file responds to what — and give them that. If you must engage in marketplace rewards, ensure they are highly tied to your cause. If you are saving the whales, think plush toy whales, not coffee mugs.