Can you deliver three things to your donors?

publication date: Sep 9, 2011
Marketing maven Seth Godin's list of three things businesses can offer their customers stands up for charities and donors as well. Results. Thrills. Ego satisfaction. A successful enterprise needs at least one, he says, and preferably two or all three.

Here's the real thought-provoker: If you can deliver only one of these, he says, it's not results that will keep you in business!

For charitable donors, I suspect his analysis breaks down right there. Do any of us have donors who support us only because we offer the vicarious thrills of a risky mission, or only because we make them feel important? I doubt it.

Despite that dissonance, it's still worth applying his three lenses to what our charities have to offer.


Results, Godin says, are a great starting point for customer (donor) satisfaction. What can you do better or more thoroughly than anyone else? What sets you apart from everyone else doing the same kind of work with the same kind of people? How can you demonstrate those results?


"More difficult to quantify but often as important," Godin claims, "partners and customers respond to heroism. We are amazed and drawn to over-the-top effort, incredible risk-taking on our behalf, the blood, sweat and tears that (rarely) comes from a great partner."

At first glance, this sounds like a missing ingredient in our sector - but not necessarily. A few charities do actually have dangerous missions, such as bringing relief or medical care to conflict zones. Others have supporters who will go to heroic lengths (climbing a mountain, cycling across Canada) to raise money for them. Still others may be able to describe their struggle with disease, illiteracy or injustice as a heroic confrontation that depends upon and includes donors.


People like to feel important. So let donors know how important they are to your mission, how much difference their gifts make to your results. Treat them with more courtesy and appreciation than they experience anywhere else. It's not that hard to do if you're guided by unfailing gratitude for what they help your charity accomplish.

Read Seth Godin's full article.

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