Seth Godin is one smart guy. I like reading his “take” on things. Sometimes he makes my head hurt but he always makes me think. Not by using outrageous examples but by his thoughtful and common sense perspective. (He is speaking later this week at a leadership conference I will attend and I am really looking forward to hearing him in person.)

He recently wrote he felt nonprofit marketers were missing a key point in their role as champions of their cause.  (I’d loosely translate that to leaving some money on the table). The reason–marketers don’t focus on a core reason to give-helping the community and doing good for its own sake.

The plain fact is most people do things for selfish reasons-even when it comes to donating. They do it because it makes them feel good and fills their need for community and service. They don’t like it when they’re made to feel guilty or compelled to give. They do it because they want to. Seth points out that this marketing proposition is seldom used by nonprofits when making their “asks”.

Instead, many marketers/development directors talk in terms of “need” and plight of the population they serve. And, that certainly can be effective, though possibly limiting. The fact is donors are also motivated by how they feel after they give, by contributing to the community’s overall good.

When people personally feel good in themselves about empowering and equipping others and enabling measurable improvement and impact in the community, that personal sense of self-satisfaction is a compelling motivation to give. All of these are valid reasons and marketers and development directors can be more effective when they talk in these terms to potential donors.

Call me and let’s talk about this.