Modern marketers believe in the value exchange, meaning that what your give up has to be lesser than, or equal to the value you receive in return. Charities have for a long time been breaking this rule, reaching into our pockets without seriously considering the motivational drivers that make up their side of the value exchange. Wouldn't it be great if we looked forward to charities approaching us? If we could get that feeling of giving, without giving up too much and still help fix the world.... what a nirvana that would be. So why can't we have that?? I propose that charities need to understand the unwritten rule Ogilvie wrote about more than 50 years ago, the unwritten rule of value exchange... But before I do, lets understand the current model.
The current charity sales model - The direct 'low value' offer
Chuggers, or 'charity muggers' have been employed to harass us on street corners for as long as most can remember. Even more effective than broadcast media, Chuggers get us one on one, asking us that uncomfortable question about our morals and values. It is no surprise they are so damn successful, so much so that their fee for the acquisition usually takes a year for the charity to payoff and start make a profit on. Yet for all their success Chuggers are losing steam, with the public less likely to give into their pushy ways. The reason for declining success can be found in Professor Colin Jevon's research into the difference in response stimuli towards advertising between children and adults. His team found that younger people are more aware of advertising around them, and find it far easier to ignore it. Thus in conclusion, Chuggers and mass media alike is less effective at penetrating the younger market, which as the baby-boomers move into retirement is vital.
The Solution - Reinventing the charity sales paradigm
Any good salesperson will tell you a deal can be restructured a million ways, it's just about finding the offer that gets the deal done. So how about we restructure what charities provide, in exchange for our hard earned 'folding stuff'? In creating this notion I've bounced ideas off a number of marketers within the NFP sector and have been extremely surprised by their responses. Almost all of them agree the model has to change, but none are willing to abandon the safety of the status quo.
What I propose is actively working to provide value to the consumer. It might be by reselling another company's product or service, it might be by forming strategic alliances with brands that are willing to supplement the donation, or incentivise the consumer directly with a free gift. Whatever it is, it needs to add value to the offer, providing more 'give' and less 'take'.
Recently I was pitching to a NFP that they should partner with a client of mine to find cheaper utility providers for consumers, effectively betting them the savings and completing the service for free. The pitch would go something like "Excuse me sir, I just wanted to give you $500 and if I can, would you donate to my charity?". I ask you, who wouldn't give up 5 minutes of their time for that? It's a Win - Win - Win situation with everyone ending up better off. Who knows, we might even change the perception of chuggers for the better!
Example of where charities have altered the value offer
Kiva as an organisation just blow me away. They provide third world micro-financing for those that need an interest free loan to expand their business. Instead of donating money, you lend money, usually in $25 denominations and only as a loan, you then choose if you re-loan that money or reclaim it for yourself. The funny thing of course is that the donations only ever grow.... it becomes addictive to see business's flourish and to feel part of the solution.
Oxfam Unwrapped is a program where you purchase a card for a friend, and the money you spend goes towards buying a virtual pig/goat/duck etc. for a community. In reality it is just raising money for projects they are already working on, but instead the value offer frames the gift as someone tangible and hence it carries more value.
Summary - Improving the charity sales paradigm
David Ogilvie would be rolling in his grave if he saw the state of marketing in the NFC sector today! With the most advanced technology we have ever had, targeting options that border on stalking and unlimited opportunities to create strategic corporate alliances, there really is no excuse for charities to maintain the status quo... Yeah sure, if it's not broken don't fix it, but pal, the wheels feel off your wagon two years ago, and you're just flogging the horses harder and harder, something has to give.
If you work with a MNC and want to talk about the possibilities, drop me an email and lets chat.