There are seven deep human needs to remember when creating nonprofit campaigns. (These are not to be confused with Maslow's hierarchy of needs!) The old marketing and fundraising playbooks don't work anymore. It is time to reinvent nonprofit marketing and communications for a new era using The Seven Deep Human Needs.
Need 1: To be SEEN and HEARD
Does your home page make people feel heard? Not many people give money because they read a well word-smithed mission statement. Effective nonprofit websites and campaigns provide space for people to express themselves. Nonprofits need to truly listen to their supporters and acknowledge what they are saying.
Not listening is the root of most problems, personal and professional.
- March for Women's Lives allowed people who couldn't march to post messages and stories on the March for Women's Lives' web site.
- Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation created a site for young people. As an after thought, they included a pen pal section where young people could connect with other young people who have diabetes. It is the most popular part of the site.
- Oxfam used Flickr petitions successfully in several campaigns. When two of their staff members returned from Darfur, they created a video to raise awareness about it. They collected questions about Darfur from supporters to include in the video.
- The Environmental Defense Fund asked supporters to help them write a Declaration of New Patriotism.
Need 2: To be CONNECTED to someone or something
Engage people by connecting to what they (not you!) care about.
- BeliefNet has prayer circles where people can share prayers for specific people.
- March of Dimes' Share Your Stories allows families of babies in the NICU to share stories.
- CarePages allow families and friends of people who are sick and hospitalized to share updates on patients' conditions and provides a place for people to send messages of support.
- National Resource Defense Council asked supporters to upload their photo and post about why they care about the environment.
- An Ocean Conservancy member created a Facebook Cause for the organization without telling them. On their own, the member recruited 2,500 people to the Cause.
Need 3: To be part of something GREATER THAN THEMSELVES
(This one speaks for itself.)
- Frogwatch USA is a monitoring program that facilitates people's collecting and sharing data about frogs in their area.
Need 4: To have HOPE for the future
Doom and gloom, and finger-wagging messages don't work.
Example of gloomy messaging
- The Ad Council's Don't Almost Give Campaign video on YouTube. One commenter wrote, "I hate these commercials."
Examples of hopeful messaging
- Earth: The Sequel received 15,000 views within 2 weeks.
- Save the Children's homepage uses mostly photos of healthy, rather than sick, children.
- The Mix It Up campaign encourages young people to cross "social boundaries" and sit with someone new at lunch.
- The Yes We Can Obama video.
Need 5: The security of TRUST
People are starved for a sense of trust in "the messenger." The book The Geography of Bliss discovered that one of the common factors among people in "happy countries" is a sense of trust.
- 76% of givers say they are influenced by friends and family. SixDegrees allows people to create widgets that feature a photo of themselves and 150 characters of text about why they support a particular cause.
- The Packard Kid Connection site helps kids get ready to go to the hospital. It builds trust because it looks like Club Penguin (Club Penguin is a social network for children), and it has videos of children explaining how things work at the hospital.
Need 6: To be of SERVICE
The #1 reason people stop giving to a nonprofit is that they feel like they are being treated like an ATM machine. They want to help, but they want to be of service, and to have different ways of serving. That need is not being fulfilled if all they hear is the unimaginative drumbeat of dollars.
Need 7: To want HAPPINESS for self and others
The core of Buddhism is that everyone wants happiness and to be free from suffering. The more you want happiness for others, the better it is for you, and them.