How to Make Funding the Mundane an Experience in “Exclusivity” For Your Funder

Exclusivity, rarity, or uniqueness is a very strong psychological trigger for the right product or the right situation. The basic concept is to make the prospect feel that he or she is special-that you are really allowing that prospect to buy a particular product that few people can obtain regardless of price. (Sugarman, 1999).

In every metropolis throughout the United States, what were so lovingly known years ago as the “civic center” have now become “The Giant Conglomerate Sports Arena,” or, “The Mega-bank Arena & Sports Complex.” Somewhere, somebody got the bright idea of soliciting banks and other multi-billion dollar corporations to be the main or sole sponsor of these arenas, in exchange for certain exclusives.

For example, theirs is the only name associated with the facility. Every item sold or given away has their name and logo on it. Every performer has their name on every poster, ticket, and television commercial. They have VIP privileges for officers, who can then view the event in a cloistered box, meet the stars, and participate in exclusive flesh pressing events not available to the general public. In addition, I’m sure even the lowest employee on the corporate totem pole has their butt properly kissed when introduced to the celebrities they meet at the events had in their corporation’s facility!

Exclusivity is not limited to arenas and sports complexes but to the car you may have purchased and paid a little extra for because it’s a designer edition, or because the paint color is exclusive to a certain limited number produced. You may be wearing an exclusive, limited edition lipstick, dress, suit, pair of shoes – just about anything anyone gets the idea to sell, and then limit, whereby designating that item as being exclusive, and therefore more desirable.

There was a county that I worked for whose County Executive wanted to be thought of as having his pulse on the needs, and concerns of his constituency. Part of my job was to make sure he always appeared accessible, human, concerned, and informed about what was on people’s minds. Among other duties, it was my job to come up with a community health objective that the county could issue RFP’s for from grassroots organizations. There was a certain measure of exclusivity attached to these annual projects.

– The RFP was specifically for grassroots organizations, which automatically exclude the larger more established nonprofits.

– The health concern was exclusive: women’s heart health, free breast cancer screenings with instructions for self examination.

– An “invitation-only,” end of the year luncheon with awards, and a keynote speaker.

– Photo opportunities with the County Executive.

– Exposure to the press for participating agencies including photo and interview possibilities.

– An exclusive “partnership” with the Government which added to an agency’s credibility, and made them automatically more “funder-friendly”

There is also exclusivity in being the “first;” the first program of this kind, our first annual “whatever” event; the first program/project of its kind in (a specific geographical location). Exclusivity can also be represented by your event guest list. If the governor is going to be there, that’s exclusive, if other dignitaries will be there, that’s also exclusive. If you are limiting your number of sponsors to one, or two, that is exclusive.

You can make a regular funding experience an exclusive undertaking by:

– Planning an event that will honor the funder.

– Making sure there are dignitaries there to publicly thank the funder for their insight in recognizing a need, and for their generosity in providing the funding.

– Make sure that hand-outs and novelties have the funder’s name and logo if possible. Ask the funder if they have novelties or information that they’d like you to share on their behalf.

– Make sure there is always some press associated with the project/program, and that the funder’s name is simultaneously linked with that of your agency or organization.

– Under the right circumstances, you could even have a “meet & thank” the funder event.

This is also an opportunity to find out what other interests the funder has, and to see if you can offer to do other programs or projects they may be interested in if they provide the funding.

Use your imagination and come up with a dozen ways you can make your product more exclusive, unique, or rare. You can limit quantities, sign and number your products, or under-produce them. Then share that information with your prospect. We all like to be treated as special, and one of the best ways to do it in a very emotional way is through the power of exclusivity. (Sugarman, p. 130)

Remember the Cabbage patch dolls? How much more exclusive could a thing be? Each doll had their own name and birth certificate. Furthermore, it was rumored that no two dolls looked alike!? Hmmm… they kind of looked alike to me, but that didn’t stop people from standing in lines for hours, sometimes even days, to procure one of these dolls for their child. I remember one night watching the news to find out the top story of the hour was the kidnapping of a Cabbage Patch doll. I think there was a ransom involved…

Just a few things to make the ordinary a little more exclusive:

– An autographed photo of the highest ranking politician you can get to say “thank you”.

– A resolution signed by the body politic in power.

– A special event put on by the recipients of the funds (this is great if it’s a program that involves kids, seniors, the disabled) lots of tugs on the heartstrings, great opportunity for publicity and photographs.

– An interview on a local television station, or an invitation to be a keynote speaker at an exclusive event planned around the specific program/project they’re funding.

– A plug complete with photograph on your agency or department web page where everyone can see how helpful they’ve been.

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