Fundraise or buy a Rolex – same, same!

Fundraise or Rolex – same, same

Survival of our species over time was due to a complex series of trial and error experiments where a positive outcome meant survival and a negative outcome often meant death. There are a number of things we learnt when we were busy doing all this evolving (there’s probably an app for that now).  Here’s what we learnt:

  1. We must reproduce or our genes will perish
  2. We must have food and shelter or we will perish
  3. We must work together and help each other or we will perish
  4. We must keep our kinship group safe or our survival has been a waste of time and our genes will perish

So we spent many tens of thousands of years as a species “learning” these things.  These were universal “truths” and if you didn’t agree, you could go your own way and perish quite successfully.  But survival was our way of life and it still is.  The modern trappings that surround us now are very recent really and tens of thousands of years of survival-oriented hard-wiring in our brains didn’t disappear once supermarkets, shopping malls and IKEA opened up.

If you’re not a believer of hard wiring, think about how many things animals do instinctively, straight out of the womb.  No time to learn, no teaching.  For babies the sucking reflex and the gag reflex are complex mechanical moves, within seconds there they are, they came pre-installed as it happens, hard-wired, like the operating system on your computer, installed for one critical purpose, survival.

Are you still with me?

Now what has all this to do with fundraising and donating?  Well you see, we still have all of these needs subconsciously driving our behaviours. Smart marketeers are playing with those needs as we’re all susceptible to them. By way of examples; Do you need a Rolex watch to tell the time? What about Chanel No. 5 perfume? Mercedes-Benz? A Ralph Polo Lauren rugby top with the logo all over it?

We are compelled to buy these things or desire them because our underlying need is to attract a mate (see point 1 above).  Mates are more attracted to those who are successful. Clever marketeers have made us believe that these items will indeed make us seem more attractive to a mate by making us look and feel more successful. And here’s the kicker, we can’t switch these underlying needs off. They will always be there, we have to consciously fight them.

Now most of us don’t spend a lot of time internalising why we just paid $150 for a bottle of liquid that makes us smell like something we’re not. Take wine as another classic learned response, if you had never drunk wine before would you be able to pick out a glass of Grange Hermitage ($500) over a glass of $10 wine? Wine drinkers must be trained to ‘appreciate’ the difference, trained to spot the label, know the price, recognise the status symbol.

Rather than fight these underlying needs, NFP’s must recognise and embrace them. Once you start to view donating, fundraising and volunteering as a value exchange,  i.e. they are products that fulfil a human need where ‘consumers’ give something up to get – then you can start to add more value to your supporters. Surprisingly buying a Rolex watch and fundraising for a charity have a similar benefit – they communicate status, something about us. Both communicate success, one communicates generosity.

Altruism is a warm fluffy label we add to a critical behaviour that is ultimately self-interested. We need the notion of ‘altruism’, we need generosity, we need donors for the survival of our species, but let’s just get over altruism as a one-way street and start embracing what I call ‘valuism’.    

This post is part two of a three post series on valuism the new game-changing insight for charities. For our first post click here.  For the full article go to the ‘Smart Fuel’ section.

To get up to speed quickly and/or for an in-house masterclass head to the contact us page and let’s get in touch. 


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