TheGivingMachine: Ditch the Guilt and go for Win-Win

By Richard Morris – CEO TheGivingMachine
One of the things our sector can be really good at is highlighting a need via a distressing image or story and benefiting from a human guilt response to generate donation income. And who can argue against its effectiveness as money gets directed to places where it is really needed. Many millions are raised this way every year in the UK and around the world.

But you could argue that this can also be counterproductive for both the charity and the donor in the long term.  While leveraging selling and marketing in the most persuasive and psychological way to generate income, it may not foster any long-lasting positive change or relationship (other than perhaps an ongoing direct debit).  When I’m speaking at workshops, I’ll often cover the following thread of conversation with causes.

TheGivingMachine: Ditch the Guilt and go for Win-Win

WHY should anyone care about what your cause does?

To get in the right frame of mind, it’s probably best to adopt an abundance mindset. For example, assume there are loads of lovely people out there who want to make a positive difference and would support you if they knew about you and your organisation.

Now, how would you approach people like that?  Probably along the following lines:

  • This is the problem that you and your organisation is addressing and why it matters
  • This is how you address the issue
  • Here are the positive outcomes
  • With more support, we can do more and impact more and make the world a better place together
  • Here’s how you could help…

Inviting people to help just by sharing knowledge and awareness can be just as powerful as money and enables supporters to make that step themselves. It generates a positive engagement and a win-win approach.

How can people support you?

For this approach to work well, there needs to be a menu of ways people can support your cause.  Some of these should be free so they can get emotionally involved without it immediately becoming a direct financial arrangement. This can be via signing up to a newsletter, giving for free via TheGivingMachine (could not resist the plug – sorry) or just following and sharing your social media channels to raise awareness. This approach respects the fact that you want to build supportive relationships with people, not just financial ones.

The opportunity to deepen that support via donations will naturally flow when supporters understand the difference you make and want to become more active participants in that with you and your cause.

We are all really fortunate to be in the ‘business’ of making the world a better place and encouraging a mindset of contribution in all its different ways. Let’s not forget that and avoid taking a purely commercial approach to fundraising.