Think about the last time you did something for a cause. Maybe you gave them money. Maybe you did a walk. Maybe you signed a petition.
Why did you do it?
That's the question the Nonprofit Technology Conference session, "The Seven Things Everyone Wants: What Freud and Buddha Understood (and We're Forgetting) about Online Outreach," tried to answer. I thought I'd share some of my notes with you from the session.
Workshop leaders, Katya Andresen of Network for Good and the Non-profit Marketing Blog, and Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies and the Sea Change Strategies Blog believe that there are 7 Deep Human Needs that you need to remember when you are creating nonprofit campaigns.
Andresen noted, "No one here said, 'I gave or volunteered because of a tool,' like email or Twitter. You supported a cause because of how it made you feel." It's easy for nonprofits to forget who is on the receiving end of their messages. Effective campaigns always keep their audience's needs in mind.
According to Andresen and Rovner, the old marketing and fundraising playbooks don't work anymore. It is time to reinvent 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 sites 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.
* Teen Health Talk engages youth to talk about health issues rather than lectures at them.
* 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 has used Flickr petitions successfully in several campaigns. Two of their staff members recently returned from Darfur and are putting together a video to raise awareness about it. They are collecting questions from supporters about Darfur 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. On the example they showed, people of all religions posted prayers for a sick child.
* 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 2500 people to the Cause.
Need 3: To be part of something GREATER THAN THEMSELVES
18Seconds.org shows the cumulative effect of everyone changing their light bulbs to CFLs. It tracks the dollars saved, number of cars off the road, pounds of coal saved, and pounds of CO2 prevented based on the number of CFLs purchased at the moment.
Rovner said he has worked with many focus groups who feel like MoveOn.org sends too many emails, and that they ask for money too often, but they don't unsubscribe because being a member makes them feel like they are a part of a larger progressive movement.
Frogs are one of the harbingers of global warming. (I guess that explains why I've been hearing frogs at night since February) 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 has been up for 2 weeks and has received 15,000 views.
* 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.
For more information about, "The Seven Things Everyone Wants: What Freud and Buddha Understood (and We're Forgetting) about Online Outreach," contact Katya Andresen at katya.andresen[at]networkforgood[dot]org and Mark Rovner at mark.rovner[at]seachangestrategies[dot]com
Photo by me.