Editor’s Note:  We are pleased to introduce Grant Gooding of Proof Positioning as a guest contributor. Grant cut his teeth in the mergers and acquisitions world which gave him an uncommon, macro understanding of the hard and soft components of businesses and market transition. He took his knowledge of analyzing hundreds of businesses to consult with entrepreneurs, mostly inventors, to help them shape their brands relative to the market landscape. He then took this concept to the next level creating Proof Positioning in 2012 where he integrated consumer insights research into his market based brand process, allowing him to use statistics to show organizations what they can say to close more business.

When making an ask, taking into consideration the different emotional and psychographic idiosyncrasies of your audience can make all the difference.

Although we like to believe we are highly logical beings and use mostly logic when making decisions, neuroscience has debunked this once widely thought presumption and taught us that all our decision making, regardless of its subject and value, resides in our emotional brain.  The money and time that we give to charities and nonprofits is no different.  This being the case, understanding and measuring those emotions is especially important when considering asks to potential and existing donors.

This was evident in a study where our firm was charged with understanding minority population giving motivations for a fund.  We discovered clear trends that allowed our client to make gentle shifts that increased the emotional resonance and engagement of donors.  While there were many takeaways from this study, one simple, yet fascinating discovery was around the different emotionally resonant value propositions of male vs. female donors.  These are some high-level findings and recommendations from that study:

Women:

The data showed very high emotional resonance of three specific value propositions (i) the organization’s reputation (25% higher than men); (ii) the outcomes the organization has achieved (25% higher); and (iii) the transparency of administrative costs (15% higher).  Based on this data we suggested the organization segment its donor database and send separate communications (email, social, event, etc.) to men and women. Some of our recommendations included:

  • Highlight the reputation of the organization by including specific details around outcomes (either stories or statistics) the programs have achieved.  This was the most important thing to women and we recommended including these “micro-stories” into all non-administrative communication to female donors.
  • Be upfront and provide detail around organizational overhead, program costs and money that goes to the people.  They understand these costs exist and will not only appreciate the honesty but sharing this information will actually increase their emotional engagement.

Men:

The data indicated there were three very DIFFERENT value propositions that resonated with men (i) the organization helped other minorities (27% higher than women); (ii) programs increase quality of life in their local community (12% higher); and (iii) programs impact someone I know personally (8% higher).  We made some recommendations based on this data:

  • Start being more outward and explicit about the organization only helping minorities.  This was the most important thing to men, by far, regardless of the program details or the specific outcomes.
  • Use more donor-centric phrases such as “This will impact your neighborhood,” or “This will help someone that you might know.”  This strategy dramatically increased the probability of creating an ambassador out of a male donor.

The fact none of the top three value propositions were coinciding for men and women was not only shocking to us but to the organization as well.  Based on the data, they were able to make simple changes to their communication strategy and their asks to help better align their messages with the things their donors found most important.

While not every organization has dramatic differences between the sexes, variance exists in every donor population because we are emotional, human beings and we all value different things.  If you consider and measure the emotions of your donors and cater your messages to say the right thing to the right people you will have more successful asks and a more engaged donor population.

Grant Gooding holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from William Jewell College/UMKC and an MBA with an emphasis in qualitative marketing from The Bloch School of Business at UMKC. Grant also serves as a Board member to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including the UMKC Marketing Advisory Board, is an adviser to several startups and is a frequent lecturer, mentor and judge for the entrepreneur community.  Grant is passionate about educating in the areas of entrepreneurship and brand philosophy. You can reach Grant and Proof Positioning by visiting http://proofpositioning.com/.

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