Major Purchases

Apr 17, 2024

Many moons ago when I was a public-school teacher, I got paid once a month. It was brutal. We used to joke that we’d have one high-budget week, one low-budget week, and two no-budget weeks. Now that I think about it, it really wasn’t much of a joke. But it felt better to laugh than to cry.

When my sons were younger, their spending habits couldn’t have been any more different. Heck, not a lot has changed! Our youngest would rather eat at home than go out, just to save the money. He probably has nearly every dollar he’s ever earned. If our oldest son had $50 bucks left in his account on a typical Thursday night in college, he’d not only be going out to eat, but he’d be buying a round because Friday was payday! Same parents, same household, same rules—totally different purchasing personalities.

Cha Ching - Ministry Pass

You know, that’s how your donors are, too, right? When people make purchases, they make decisions. Should they spend the money or not? Should they buy the basic package or upgrade? Should they wait until it goes on sale or buy it now? When money leaves the account, these questions are asked and answered—even if it’s a conversation you have with yourself.

But the script quickly flips. Did you realize that when people make decisions, they also make purchases? If they decide to volunteer on your Board, they spend their time. If they decide to write thank you notes to your donors on your behalf, they spend their energy. Like money, those resources are scarce. So, it’s no surprise that when they expend those resources, their brain responds in the same way it would when they make a monetary purchase.

Flip the Script - YouTube

Nonprofit marketers and developers need to understand this concept, too. No, maybe we aren’t Girl Scouts selling Thin Mints, but we are selling. We’re simply selling the hope for a fully handicap-accessible park, expanded mental health services, or a cancer care center providing free mammograms.

No, donor don’t give us cash and receive a product. Luckily, it’s not that transactional. But they do get something from their ‘purchase’. They get a safe park with equitable access for every child. They get mental health care for everyone who needs it. They get moms whose lives are saved through early cancer detection. They buy transformation. That’s powerful--like caterpillar to butterfly powerful!

Biology: Life Cycle Of A Butterfly: Level 1 activity for kids ...

So, make no mistake, you are in sales. Approaching your marketing as if your donors are making a purchase is not just wise, it’s necessary.

Whether your donors are expending their time, talent, treasure, knowledge, networks, or energy with you and your cause--rest assured--their brains treat that as a purchase. They spent something valuable to them with you.

I like to treat those donations as if those donors only got paid once a month. I remember all too well how valuable my resources were then. Can you think back to those low budget days when Ramen Noodles and Cambell’s Chicken Soup were luxuries because they were hot meals? Those days when you had to pack your lunch because eating out every day got to be too expensive? Or those days when you were stoked to have leftovers to reheat?

Eating Ramen Noodles Five Times A Week | College memes, College humor ...

It’s those times when you’re running low on resources that you value them even more. It might be best to assume when you ask your donors for their resources, that their purchase requires a decision. And when they say ‘yes’, remembering that decision required a purchase. Then, expressing gratitude generously. Transformational work is difficult; major purchases take time and trust. Thin Mints help.

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily,

[email protected]
dawn brown creative, llc. 

P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

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