December 7, 2020

Always remember: Donors give through your organization to fulfill their own aspirations.

And Seth Godin describes that truth so well in one of his bestest ever blogs. Posted on April 14, 2013. And since that date, Seth’s brand blog – printed out of course – has been taped to the fill cabinets just behind my desk.

Surely I’ve told you about this most beautiful blog that Seth has written. And if I have previously, let me share it again. Definitely it’s time for all fundraisers – and their bosses and work colleagues and every single board member – to understand and embrace this.

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“The brand is a story. But it’s a story about you, not about the brand.”

Why prefer Coke over Pepsi or GE over Samsung or Ford over Chevy?

In markets that aren’t natural monopolies or where there are clear, agreed-upon metrics, how do we decide?

Yes, every brand has a story – that’s how it goes from being a logo and a name to a a brand. The story includes expectations and history and promises and social cues and emotions. The story makes us say “we love Google” or “love Harley”…but what do we really love?

We love ourselves.

We love the memory we have of how that brand made us feel once. We love that it reminds us of our mom, or growing up, or our first kiss. We support a charity or a soccer team or a perfume because it gives us a chance to love something about ourselves.

We can’t easily explain this, even to ourselves. We can’t easily acknolwedge the narcissism and the nostalgia that drives so many of the apprently rational decisions we make every day. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not at work.

More than ever, we express ourselves with what we buy and how we use what we buy. Extension of our personality, totems of our selves, reminders of who we are or would like to be.

Great markets don’t make stuff. They make meaning.

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So which organizations do you give through to fulfill your own aspirations?

What is the story you want to tell about yourself…share with others about yourself…confirm and reaffirm who you are?

Shall I tell you someday about my aspirations as a human being? And how my giving reflects those aspirations? And the story from Papa Georges, my dad? And Tom and I took dad’s statement and made it into our family slogan? (And by the way, the word “slogan” derives from slough-gairm, the Scottish Gaelic word for battle cry.



About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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