Book review: Stop raising funds and help your donors make progress

Book Review: Demand-Side Sales 101: Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Make Progressby Bob Moesta

Demandsidesales

Remember “supply-side economics”?

There’s also “supply-side sales.”

And “demand-side sales.”

The difference: supply-side sales is an approach that focuses on the thing being sold — its features, benefits, and all-around awesomeness. Demand-side sales focuses on the customer — what she needs, the problem she hopes to solve.

You’re probably thinking two things right now. Let me guess:

  1. “Supply-side sales sounds like most of the sales pitches I’ve ever heard.”
  2. “That sounds like fundraising!”

If that’s what you’re thinking, I agree with you. And that’s why I appreciate this book. While it’s all about selling products and services, the ideas translate well to fundraising, starting with the insight that people buy things because they have “Jobs to Be Done,” (JTBD): they don’t buy products, they hire them to make progress in their life.

Which is the point of Demand-Side Sales 101: Salespeople should stop blabbing about how superb their products are and start learning what their products can do for their customers, then make that the center of your pitch:

… great salespeople don’t sell; they help. They listen, understand what you want to achieve, and help you achieve it.

Same for fundraising, but with an important twist: when you donate, you don’t take ownership of anything. Other than some tax advantages that few people need and even few care much about, the rewards are completely psychic.

But those psychic rewards are still the reason people donate — it’s still “progress” that people are seeking. And this is why the most effective fundraising is Demand-Side Fundraising.

This book can help, even though it’s all about commercial marketing. Example: Here are three basic principles of sales from the book, which I’ve “edited” to make about fundraising:

  1. People [give] for their own reasons. It’s more about progress than about your [organization or programs]. Your job as a [fundraiser] is to help people make progress on their terms; it’s about more than [fundraising] and making the “almighty dollar.” Approaching [fundraising] from this mindset will set you apart as a great [fundraiser].”
  2. Nothing is random; everything is caused. Understanding the causal mechanisms of why people do what they do, down to the action level, is critical. It will help you see patterns and [raise funds] better while helping people make progress faster.”
  3. The struggle creates demand. The struggling moment is the seed for all [giving]. Where do people struggle? Helping people make progress is embedded in finding these struggling moments. So, find the struggling moment!”

Here’s more. “The Three Myths to Dispel,” also edited for fundraisers:

  1. Supply creates demand; build it and they will [donate to] it. No, the product does not create demand. People want to be their definition of best, not yours. It’s about fitting your [cause] into their life by understanding the progress they are trying to make.
  2. [Donations] are random…. This is the idea that you just need to find people and they will [give]. [Fundraising] is not about finding people; it’s about creating demand. Many [fundraisers] operate under the probability framework: “If I get my [cause] in front of enough people eventually it will [raise funds].”
  3. [Fundraising] is about convincing people, and you can convince anyone to do anything. [Fundraisers] don’t convince people to [give], people convince themselves. They [give] for their own reasons. You need understand them first, and then your [cause] and how it fits into their lives.

Business and sales theory can really give great insights to fundraisers. That’s why I recommend you read this book.

Available at Powell’s Books (an excellent independent bookseller)


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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