Yesterday, I published a post titled “What will Trump’s impact be on the non-profit sector?” and I ended with a cliffhanger with the following tease:
“The Trump Administration will mark the beginning of a renaissance for the non-profit sector!“
If you didn’t have a chance to read yesterday’s post, I encourage you to go back and do so. It wasn’t very long, but it helps set the stage for what you’re about to read.
As I explained yesterday, I had written a blog post a few days after the election about what Donald Trump’s election might mean to the non-profit sector. However, a funny thing happened on my way to clicking the “publish” button . . . my inner Jiminy Cricket started chirping. While I normally ignore my intuition because I don’t trust it, I’ve been working on developing this inferior function (yes, this is a geeky Myers-Briggs reference … LOL) over the last five years. And I think it paid off in this case.
In the days and weeks after the election, I started to sense a “drip-drip-drip” of non-profit news coverage. There were random stories in my Google feed in addition to what I heard on the radio and saw on television. Again, I didn’t put the bigger picture together right away, but it did give me pause and kept me away from my blog’s dreaded “publish” button.
Here are a few examples of the “drip-drip-drip” I was seeing:
- The Guardian: “Progressive causes see ‘unprecedented’ upswing in donations after US election“
- The Washington Post: “‘It’s unprecedented in our history’: Trump’s election inspired millions in nonprofit donations“
- CNN Money: “ACLU racks up $24.1 million in donations over weekend“
At first I kind of dismissed this as something I would describe as: “My-Liberal-Friends-Are-Rallying-The-Troops” phenomenon. Of course, you are thinking the same thing, right? It must be because the headlines are full of non-profits that seen as “liberal causes” such as:
- American Civil Liberties Union (e.g. fighting Trump on immigration issue)
- Planned Parenthood (aka abortion issue)
- International Rescue Committee (aka Syrian refugees)
- Center for Public Integrity (aka investigative journalism)
- The Marshall Project (aka criminal justice system issues)
- NAACP (aka civil right)
- Human Rights Campaign (aka LBGTQ issues)
- Anti-Defamation League (aka addressing anti-Semitism)
- Sierra Club (aka environmental issues)
Take a good look up and down this list. It is way to easy to buy into an explanation like “My-Liberal-Friends-Are-Rallying-The-Troops” phenomenon.” Right? And I almost did, but Jiminy Cricket was still wagging his finger at me (or maybe it was Trump). So, I held off on publishing my Trump blog post for a little longer.
And then it came to me . . .
I was at Bloomerang‘s Bloomcon conference in Orlando, FL on February 13, 2017. One of the many expert speakers that day was Tom Ahern. (He is one of my all-time FAVs) And he was on his favorite soapbox talking about his favorite things:
- storytelling (e.g. make the donor the hero of your case for support)
- emotional triggers (e.g. anger, exclusivity, fear, flattery, greed, guilt, salvation) and neuroscience
- 13 most influential words in the English language (#1 on the list is the word ‘YOU’)
My ah-ha moment came to me like bricks falling from the sky. It occurred while Tom was waxing poetic about great non-profit stories having “good guys” and “bad guys.” And this is when things started making sense:
- Who is the perceived ‘bad guy’? President Trump
- What is the problem? The new administration will [fill in the blank with things like repeal the healthcare law, deport millions of people, etc]
- Who is the ‘good guy’? YOU … Mr. or Mrs. Donor who cares about these issues
- What is the solution? A trustworthy non-profit organization asking emotionally buzzed up donors to get involved (aka volunteer, sign a petition, call your legislator but definitely don’t forget to make a contribution)
So, put a check mark in the “Good Storytelling Material” box.
But what about the emotions at play in these donors’ philanthropic decisions? (hint: go back up to the bullet point where I list Tom’s favorite seven emotional triggers and quickly refresh your memory)
The following is what I believe is driving this wave of engaged donors:
- ANGER — donor is upset about Trump victory, especially because it was a surprise and they might now have been emotionally prepared for it
- FEAR — donor is confident that policies and programs they value will be dismantled and people will get hurt (and the 24/7 cable news networks certainly stoke this fire)
- GUILT — donor feels guilty that maybe they should’ve done more to help Clinton campaign (e.g. could’ve donated, knocked on doors, volunteered, etc)
These three emotions are all powerful in and of themselves. However, there is synergy between these emotions, which I believe exponentially took people to a new place (I prefer to think of it as a philanthropic place set in technicolor).
For those readers, who are excited because it sounds like I am saying that fundraising is as easy as saying: “BOO! Donald Trump is President so won’t you please give to my organization?” . . . I encourage you to think again.
But, oh snap, look at the time. It is getting late. <yawn> And I am way past my maximum word count guideline. I guess you’ll need to come back tomorrow for another installment of this series of Trump-inspired posts. But I guess it is only fair to give you a little preview:
“Trump is like having a golden ticket’ to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for those organizations who know how to fundraise. But those organizations who have been fat and sassy and accepting lots of government funding instead of fundraising are likely going to fail or merge with other organizations.”
Don’t worry. If your organization falls into the “fat and sassy government funding” category I just described, I’ll have a few tips for you tomorrow (or maybe the next day). 😉
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC