June 13, 2017

Have you ever donated to charity?

Have you ever donated money to charity?

Dropped a few bucks in a street performer’s hat?

Given a bottle of wine as a housewarming present?

Of course you have. Everyone gives, at least once in a while.

Recent Example

The karate school that I train at has been running a fund-raiser for about a month. Students were asked to go out into the community and “sell boards” for $10 each. For each $10 donated, the student would break a board for the donor.

The fund-raising peaked this past Saturday with a big event at the school. Tents were set up in the parking lot, a BBQ grill was cranking out hot dogs, and a huge palette of 6“ x 12” pine boards was delivered.

Students went up to the palette, checked their name off the list, and were presented with a stack of boards corresponding to their donations - e.g., if you brought in $100, you got 10 boards to break.

Lots of students had huge stacks of boards to break, so they would invite friends and family to help them out. It was actually pretty funny.

I saw a grandma’s eyes nearly pop out of her head as her foot snapped a board in two. My 3yo daughter even got in on the action by stomping through three boards, one after the other (ninja in training, that one...)

As of today, the event has raised $29,000 and counting. That’s a non-trivial amount of money.

So here’s my question:

Why did people give?

Why would someone give me $10 to break a pine board in half?

What’s the ROI?

Surely not every person who donated to the event thought that they would someday personally benefit from the medical research that the money was going toward.

So what did they get for their $10?

At the risk of sounding like a jackass for talking about the ROI of a charity donation, I think that the answer is as simple as this:

They got a feeling that was worth more to them than $10.

It might have been a feeling of connection, or avoidance of guilt, or a dozen other things.

The value a giver receives from giving is intangible, but it is very VERY real.

(NOTE: Refer back to my previous messages about selling intangibles)

The Takeaway

I’ve gotten crap for saying this before, but it bears repeating because it’s really important:

Talk to your past clients about the intangible benefits they received from your work, and then sell those benefits to new clients.

Just because they are intangible (i.e., they don’t show up on a balance sheet) doesn’t mean they aren’t real. And they might just be the most valuable thing you have to offer.