There's a saying that money can't buy happiness - but a recent article in BBC Focus magazine suggests it isn't so much the value of money but how you choose to spend it that gets you to the happy place.
The magazine is by subscription but the article came out of the findings from this book written by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, two Associate Professors from British Columbia and Harvard Business School respectively - which is well worth a read.
There is of course an obvious connection to philanthropy and the article again highlights that there is a clear link between supporter happiness and being shown where their money is spent comparing Spread the Net and UNICEF as an example. No surprise there.
But within the article there were other interesting morsels that probably could also be better leveraged within the fundraising arena. An opportunity if you will.
The experience CV - the context of this is that day to day we make choices about the mundane versus the exciting. The commitment to get your dowdy bathroom refurbished versus visiting the Galapagos Islands for example. The point about this is that research from Cornell university indicated that people are less likely to regret buying experience than buying material things. In fact in research 80% of the people regretted not buying an experience when it was there because experience seems unique.
Here's the time to be looking at what experience you are actually offering to your supporters. For child sponsorship organisations for example offering the sponsors a chance to meet their sponsored child is an obvious one, for overseas development it could be getting people out to build a well, but this could be a little less obvious for other causes - though I am sure there are things that can be offered to make the difference between the transactional versus the experiential.
As an extension of this - then the question may be - how can you if not in reality but virtually offer the opportunity for supporters to share time, any time with the people who benefit from their support? Another suggestion that came out of the research was that people feel better about spending money on others when we are part of the experience and spending time with them.
All this is food for thought really - sometimes it isn't possible, practical, cost effective to directly link your supporters with your service users or beneficiaries - but who else could you link supporters with? Front line staff, programme workers? I know that all communications should be doing this any way - but in the same way we know tangibility beats the more general we are still not great at making that connection for supporters.
So this is merely a timely reminder that we should probably do more to explore these options and implement them as much as possible within our own context.
It would be great to get to a point that giving to your cause could be worthy of being added to a supporter's experience CV in the same way that visiting the Serengeti would.
Thank you as ever for stopping by.