How is Trump ushering in renaissance for non-profit sector?

Yesterday, I published a post titled “What will Trump’s impact be on the non-profit sector?” and I ended with a cliffhanger with the following tease:

The Trump Administration will mark the beginning of a renaissance for the non-profit sector!

If you didn’t have a chance to read yesterday’s post, I encourage you to go back and do so. It wasn’t very long, but it helps set the stage for what you’re about to read.

As I explained yesterday, I had written a blog post a few days after the election about what Donald Trump’s election might mean to the non-profit sector. However, a funny thing happened on my way to clicking the “publish” button . . . my inner Jiminy Cricket started chirping. While I normally ignore my intuition because I don’t trust it, I’ve been working on developing this inferior function (yes, this is a geeky Myers-Briggs reference … LOL) over the last five years. And I think it paid off in this case.

In the days and weeks after the election, I started to sense a “drip-drip-drip” of non-profit news coverage. There were random stories in my Google feed in addition to what I heard on the radio and saw on television. Again, I didn’t put the bigger picture together right away, but it did give me pause and kept me away from my blog’s dreaded “publish” button.

Here are a few examples of the “drip-drip-drip” I was seeing:

At first I kind of dismissed this as something I would describe as: “My-Liberal-Friends-Are-Rallying-The-Troops” phenomenon. Of course, you are thinking the same thing, right? It must be because the headlines are full of non-profits that seen as “liberal causes” such as:

  • American Civil Liberties Union (e.g. fighting Trump on immigration issue)
  • Planned Parenthood (aka abortion issue)
  • International Rescue Committee (aka Syrian refugees)
  • Center for Public Integrity (aka investigative journalism)
  • The Marshall Project (aka criminal justice system issues)
  • NAACP (aka civil right)
  • Human Rights Campaign (aka LBGTQ issues)
  • Anti-Defamation League (aka addressing anti-Semitism)
  • Sierra Club (aka environmental issues)

Take a good look up and down this list. It is way to easy to buy into an explanation like “My-Liberal-Friends-Are-Rallying-The-Troops” phenomenon.” Right? And I almost did, but Jiminy Cricket was still wagging his finger at me (or maybe it was Trump). So, I held off on publishing my Trump blog post for a little longer.

And then it came to me . . .

I was at Bloomerang‘s Bloomcon conference in Orlando, FL on February 13, 2017. One of the many expert speakers that day was Tom Ahern. (He is one of my all-time FAVs) And he was on his favorite soapbox talking about his favorite things:

  • storytelling (e.g. make the donor the hero of your case for support)
  • emotional triggers (e.g. anger, exclusivity, fear, flattery, greed, guilt, salvation) and neuroscience
  • 13 most influential words in the English language (#1 on the list is the word ‘YOU’)

My ah-ha moment came to me like bricks falling from the sky. It occurred while Tom was waxing poetic about great non-profit stories having “good guys” and “bad guys.” And this is when things started making sense:

  • Who is the perceived ‘bad guy’?  President Trump
  • What is the problem?  The new administration will [fill in the blank with things like repeal the healthcare law, deport millions of people, etc]
  • Who is the ‘good guy’?  YOU … Mr. or Mrs. Donor who cares about these issues
  • What is the solution?  A trustworthy non-profit organization asking emotionally buzzed up donors to get involved (aka volunteer, sign a petition, call your legislator but definitely don’t forget to make a contribution)

So, put a check mark in the “Good Storytelling Material” box.

But what about the emotions at play in these donors’ philanthropic decisions? (hint: go back up to the bullet point where I list Tom’s favorite seven emotional triggers and quickly refresh your memory)

The following is what I believe is driving this wave of engaged donors:

  • ANGER — donor is upset about Trump victory, especially because it was a surprise and they might now have been emotionally prepared for it
  • FEAR — donor is confident that policies and programs they value will be dismantled and people will get hurt (and the 24/7 cable news networks certainly stoke this fire)
  • GUILT — donor feels guilty that maybe they should’ve done more to help Clinton campaign (e.g. could’ve donated, knocked on doors, volunteered, etc)

These three emotions are all powerful in and of themselves. However, there is synergy between these emotions, which I believe exponentially took people to a new place (I prefer to think of it as a philanthropic place set in technicolor).

For those readers, who are excited because it sounds like I am saying that fundraising is as easy as saying: “BOO! Donald Trump is President so won’t you please give to my organization?” . . . I encourage you to think again.

But, oh snap, look at the time. It is getting late. <yawn> And I am way past my maximum word count guideline. I guess you’ll need to come back tomorrow for another installment of this series of Trump-inspired posts. But I guess it is only fair to give you a little preview:

“Trump is like having a golden ticket’ to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for those organizations who know how to fundraise. But those organizations who have been fat and sassy and accepting lots of government funding instead of fundraising are likely going to fail or merge with other organizations.”

Don’t worry. If your organization falls into the “fat and sassy government funding” category I just described, I’ll have a few tips for you tomorrow (or maybe the next day).   😉

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on March 29, 2017, in Fundraising, nonprofit, philanthropy, resource development. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I am unsubscribing to your clap trap…………I am sick and tired of ignorant individuals such as yourself who glory in their virtue signaling, and I’ll not support your organization as I have in the past by simply ignoring your posts filled with liberal screeds of bile, but instead I am unsubscribing..

    Good day to you sir.

    On Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 9:16 AM, DonorDreams Blog wrote:

    > DonorDreams posted: “Yesterday, I published a post titled “What will > Trump’s impact be on the non-profit sector?” and I ended with a cliffhanger > with the following tease: “The Trump Administration will mark the beginning > of a renaissance for the non-profit sector!” If you d” >

    • I’m sorry that I apparently fell short of your expectations, Scott. I tried hard to remain focused on the non-profit aspect of my posts and not fall into partisan sand traps. I didn’t mean to imply that the Trump administrations policies were good or bad. I only meant to say they will impact the non-profit sector and people will need to find another way to fund and operationalize their organizational missions other than relying heavily on government. I was also simply trying to illustrate the fact that donors are motivated by “emotion” which has been underscored by the actions of the adminstration. Truthfully, we say the same proof during the Obama administration when conservative minded donors did the same thing. Again, sorry you feel the way you do. I’ll try to do better next time I real for the third rail (aka politics) of our society and fold it into my non-profit blog. I appreciate your feedback and hope I can win you over again as a reader.

  2. I agree with both of your blogs about Trump’s Presidency. But I can’t help but wonder, when did it become government’s responsibility to fund the programs WE care about? When did we give up our passion and want Big Brother to step in?

    Personally, I think the Trump administration will teach us how to ignite our passion again and create a stronger sense of community, even if it is out of anger, fear or guilt.

    Love reading you blog!

    • I’m not touching that issue with a ten foot pole. I love the question, but that is a topic for another blogger with more tolerance for a heated comment section. LOL However, I will agree with you that Trump is a new force in DC that will teach all of us to approach what we do differently. I love that you love reading my blog. Thanks for your readership!

      • LOL! I shouldn’t take life to seriously before my coffee has had a chance to soak in 😉

        The better (rhetorical) question should be “shouldn’t fundraising be local”? (And I think that defining ‘local’ could be up for debate: it may be okay to gerrymander here)

        Again, thank you for blogging. I always learn something and I appreciate the chance to question my own beliefs.

  1. Pingback: Will your non-profit be a ‘winner’ or ‘loser’ during Trump era? | DonorDreams Blog

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