Needs, Wants and the Absolute Importance of Relevance
Anemic acquisition results. Sinking response rates. Shrinking average gifts. Serious budget shortfalls.
Cue up R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” But wondering when the misery and angst will end won’t help — so we had best do something.
People are actively thinking about the difference between “need” and “want” in all their buying decisions like they haven’t done since my grandmother was washing, drying and carefully smoothing out the same piece of tinfoil to be used again and again. Being frugal is “in.”
That’s our new reality, and it means that donors who typically make contributions to 10 or more organizations across a spectrum of interests might be thinking much more than usual about “need” versus “want” when it comes to giving.
And you can bet that while they might want to give you money, if your appeal doesn’t resonate enough, the donations will go to other organizations they believe need them more.
Are your appeals as relevant as they must be amid the all-time-low consumer confidence and uncertainty of this recession? By relevance, I mean speaking to donors about what matters to them most in a way that both triggers emotional response and gives them the backup rationale they need to feel they’re making a wise giving decision.
Case in point: I’ve been receiving a fair number of “Air Gram,” “Priority Urgent Gram” and “Emergency Message” packages from various organizations. They’re classics, effective in the aftermath of disasters, and many of us have used them successfully in a variety of situations.
However, some being used recently to address the impact of the recession are failing to meet the relevance test. For example: “I rushed this Emergency Telegram to you early this morning because I need to hear from you within the next 72 hours.
“You see, our budget indicates that we must raise $25 million soon toward …”