Seth Godin and I go way back.
Not that I’ve actually met him yet but I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s books since about 2000. The book that changed the way I communicated for organizations and nonprofits was Purple Cow (how’s that for a killer title?). What I’ve always appreciated about Seth is that he’s a painfully straight-shooter, has big ideas, is not afraid to fail and understands giving back.
We’ve mentioned Seth and his thinking on the blog, our Twitter stream and on our Facebook page countless times as well as always having one of his books on our must-read booklist when we speak. Linchpin was the book that inspired our team and made for some spicy conversations with the Oneicity Tribe. Linchpin helped us be better at being us. If you don’t read his blog, you’re missing out on fresh, provocative thinking.
So a few weeks ago I mentioned Seth in a blog post and he commented. It was just a crack about my haircut, and I was sure it was from a spammer. But I emailed him looking for some sort of verification that it wasn’t one of my “friends” harassing me. Turns out it was the real Seth Godin with a real Seth Godin email address who responded to my email with: “It’s me.” How fun is that?
Thereafter Seth graciously agreed to do a short interview for our blog as part of our 8-in-8 book giveaway because this week we’re giving away the whole Seth Godin Enchilada : the special edition boxed set (which is no longer available), plus Linchpin, and we’re throwing in one of the SHIP IT workbooks.
ST: First, thanks so much for agreeing to take time to share your thoughts on nonprofits. Your time is short, so I’ll jump right to it. I gather that you personally support charities and causes. Can you describe what attracts you to a charity? What motivates you to make a gift or to support the organization?
Seth: I think philanthropy is undermarketed, and that the typical middle class and up American is missing something by not experiencing the impact that giving can have. Last year Americans spent more than six billion dollars on self-storage facilities. What are we storing? What happens when you try to scale giving instead of taking or spending?
My personal objectives in giving are to fix the system, not to address emergencies. The endless emergency of poverty is a little depressing to me, and so a finger in the dike isn’t my goal.
ST: What do you think is the biggest mistake charities and nonprofits make in their marketing and fundraising?
Seth: Failing to treat different customers differently. And trying to always find another stranger, instead of wooing the friends already found. And high overhead events like galas.
ST: Love what you’re saying, we talk about that a lot in segmentation, granular messaging and wooing lapsed donors. That makes sense to us. So what’s the role of “story” in fundraising for a nonprofit?
Seth: That’s all there is. All we sell is a story, never more so than at a nonprofit.
ST: That’s where figuring out the Purple Cow concept and the ideas from All Marketers Tell Stories comes to play. OK, to shift gears a bit, most nonprofits struggle to recruit and retain great people on staff, how could the leader of a nonprofit use your Linchpin concept to build and keep a team?
Seth: Many non profits are afraid of the irreplaceable, they seek compliant cogs. They fear someone who will offend or shake things up or move too fast or demand to be measured. I think that’s a shame. This is particularly true with the old and famous charities, the ones we grew up with…
ST: Fear is a killer for many of us, not just in the nonprofit world. Thanks for writing so much about it and suggesting ways to conquer it (Linchpin). One of our readers will get your boxed set of books plus Linchpin. Which book would you recommend they read first with and why?
Seth: The order I wrote them is probably best, unless you think you’re going to get tired along the way, then I’d vote for The Dip, Linchpin, Tribes, Purple Cow, Permission Marketing and Catcher in the Rye. I didn’t really like that one, so read it last.
ST: Hilarious. Thanks a ton for making time for our readers.
There you have it straight from The Man. If you’d like a shot at getting the whole set (you do know that he was kidding about Catcher in the Rye don’t you?) comment this week on the blog or our Facebook page. One lucky commenter will score the whole thing except Catcher in the Rye (you’re killing me Seth).
So, what about you. Have a favorite Seth Godin book you’d like to tell us about? What do you think about what he has to say about nonprofit fundraising? More and more donors are fatigued by emergencies, yet crises are easy strategies for quick money. You’ve heard what Seth thinks, now tell us what you think.
As always, we love having you drop by.
(Seth photo credit: Wikipedia)