Wednesday, November 6, 2013

BIG’s Blog: Asking someone to marry you is . . .

Of all the important things that people learn when they take our Courses, perhaps one of the most important is an emphasis on the need to build relationship FIRST.

Any organization that seeks to connect with the Baby Boomer, Gen-X, or the Millennial generations must begin . . . begin . . . by first forming a relationship. You do not meet the man or woman of your dreams and immediately ask him/her to marry you. Asking someone to marry you or, conversely, hearing a marriage proposal is a very emotional experience; one that those of you who have gone through it can attest to. In the same way, if you want to be successful long-term with Baby Boomers, Gen-X, and Millennials, you do not "ask for support" the first time they hear of you and your mission/ministry.

You say, "But Mike, that upends how we currently acquire donors through the mail and most other ways."

Do you suppose THAT might have something to do with why you are NOT acquiring significant numbers of Boomers, Gen-X, and Millennial supporters?

Something has changed.

Most, if not all, of your mail acquisition programs seek to touch an emotion . . . but emotion is only skin-deep (so to speak). Emotion is of the moment; it doesn’t last. Whereas relationship, is, by definition . . . depth.

Of late, much has been made of the fact that 60-something percent of first-time givers to mail solicitations do not give a second gift. It wasn’t always 60%. In fact 20 years ago it was half that or lower. Why was it lower 20 years ago? Could it be that 20 years ago the Depression and WWII generational cohorts made up virtually all the donor base for organizations like yours? These generational cohorts “trusted institutions” like yours. As the boomers have started to show up on exchange lists, their mode is very different. They may react to an emotional appeal, but very few stick around. Why? Emotion is fleeting.

So then, the correct order is this: first, develop the relationship, then second, "ask" with emotion . . . but don’t ask unless you have a relationship.

“But Mike, but Mike, we can’t do this with mail.”

I know.

This upends your current fundraising methodology, but hopefully it opens your eyes and explains why things are the way they are today.

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