How can your nonprofit be more like Snickers?

by Elizabeth Ricca

Image by Snickers

I'll be honest with you: I don't have that much of a sweet tooth. (Don't tell the other Ducks—I might get voted out.) So I rarely eat candy—but if I'm on the road between meals and my options are limited, I sometimes buy a Snickers bar.

I tell myself it's because I find them filling—peanuts are protein, right?—and I kind of enjoy them, but really it probably has a lot to do with commercials like this one.

I love how smart this commercial is. It's not selling me a candy bar—it's selling me a solution to a problem: when I'm hungry, I don't think or act the way I usually do (my friend calls it "being hangry," which certainly is apt in my case).

Snickers is a convenient, easy solution to that problem, available on pretty much any street corner or at any gas station. They've spent years building up the impression that their candy bars are filling and hearty—think "Snickers really satisfies." and "Hungry? Why wait? Grab a Snickers." And that means that when I get a Snickers bar, I'm purchasing candy—but what I'm really buying is a feeling of satisfaction.

There's a big idea here that I think is especially relevant for nonprofits: thinking beyond the transaction. When someone makes a donation to your organization, or signs up to volunteer, or registers to run a race, what are they really getting? Is it the glow of doing good? The pride of being part of something exciting? The warmth of being part of a community? The personal satisfaction of setting and meeting a challenge?

Nonprofits don't always think about it this way, but you have something real to offer your supporters, even if it's intangible—and your communications and fundraising materials should reflect that.

So grab a few colleagues and brainstorm about what those intangible benefits are for your organization, then take another look at your latest campaign email or fundraising letter or brochure. You might just see some new opportunities to give your supporters what they're really looking for.

Got a favorite example of this in your own organization or in the nonprofit world? Share in the comments.

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