November 15, 2023
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
There’s a funny scene in “We’re the Millers” where Scottie P., a skate rat and carnival worker, arrives to pick up Casey, one of the main characters. Scottie P. is carefree and mostly oblivious, highlighted by his “No Ragrets” tattoo.
Jason Sudeikis, playing Casey’s father, asks about it, “What’s this one?” pointing to the chest tattoo. “Oh this, that’s my credo” says Scottie P.
Sudeikis, without missing a beat, says, “You have no regrets? Like, not even a single letter?”
Scottie P. can live with regret, your donors cannot.
In the world of regrets there are those I experience and those I anticipate; the former is the clay molding the latter. If I gave to you anticipating,
- the sadness you made me feel would be washed away by hopefulness and/or
- my values and goals would be reinforced,
and neither happened then I’ve experienced regret. And I anticipate feeling regret with your next appeal. Needless to say, the giving stops.
The clear, obvious implication is making sure your donor feels positive emotions, a reinforced sense of self and psychological satisfaction (autonomy, competence, relatedness). Easier said than done but regular readers will hopefully recognize all those concepts and our attempts to preach them with the why’s and how’s.
But failing to head it off at the pass, how to deal with anticipated regret? How to find these people and what to message?
- Your likely pool of anticipated regret folks is, unfortunately, large. It’s within the group of new donors who never made a 2nd gift.
- Many of those people are feeling something negative, regret.
- To combat this, we zig to counter the zag.
- Do not focus on the donor and the benefits they’ll receive (e.g., warm glow, hero). The focus on them causes inward, self-directed thinking, bringing the regret feeling front and center.
- Instead, focus on the beneficiary exclusively. This creates an outward focus, helping them look past the regret.
- Do not frame as a loss – e.g., help prevent [your cause] from [getting worse]. This is negative framing and it’s like a booster shot to the negative regret feeling.
- Instead, frame as a gain – e.g., help provide more goodness. This positive framing counters the negative regret emotion.