What They Get Is Key to Why They Give
The benefit exchange
In crass marketing terms, we call this the benefit exchange. It is the answer to the question, what do I get for my money? If I’m buying pricey antiwrinkle cream, the benefit exchange might involve $100 as the price for the hope that I can regain my youth. If I’m fundraising, there are many possible benefit exchanges I can offer my donors — faith in themselves, inspiration, a feeling of accomplishment, or, on a more mundane level, a plastic wristband or logo-laden coffee mug.
Think about this formula the next time you ask for money. Remind donors of the returns of giving, which are precious indeed. Here are a few qualities of a great benefit exchange:
IMMEDIATE: What will people get right away in exchange for doing what you ask — whether you want them to give money, volunteer or quit smoking? Some good causes deal with the immediacy challenge with a gift like a T-shirt, hat or wristband. These offerings provide the person who donated money or took some action with an instant benefit — recognition. Other options? Show how someone can save a life RIGHT NOW. Demonstrate how he or she can feel good by making a difference THIS SECOND. And above all, make it incredibly easy to act, so people will believe they will get the benefit exchange pronto.
PERSONAL: Our audience members need to believe from our message that the reward we’re offering for taking action will make something better for them personally. The private sector understands the importance of making rewards personal. Auto manufacturers don’t sell you a car by explaining the way the engine is built; they tell you the car is reliable, safe or fast, depending on who you are and your personal priorities. They take the attributes of their products and translate them into personally desirable benefits. That translation is easy to make for most products. It’s harder for good causes because we get swept up in the huge scope of what we want to accomplish. But remember, at the end of the day, it is always the personal connection, not the grand concept, that grabs our attention.