The Law of Exclusivity

Recently, my wife and I celebrated 10 years of marriage with a long weekend in NYC.  It was a fun and memorable trip.

One of the memories we both will treasure was the night we saw “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” on Broadway.  The show was fantastic.  But even more, one of the actors is my high school friend, Joey Sorge.  Not only did he arrange for us to have perfect seats, Joey was kind enough to put us on the list to go backstage after the show.

Backstage we had the opportunity to see some of the show’s stars up close and personally.  And, Joey took us onto the stage and told us, “Now you honestly can tell people you’ve spent time on a Broadway stage.”  The whole evening was a real treat.

This evening reminded me how the experiences we provide for others enhance their feelings of affiliation with us and our institutions.  I believe there is a Law of Exclusivity and it is defined like this:

Feelings of affiliation are strongly and positively related with experiences that are perceived as exclusive.

In other words, when we create environments in which people feel like they have received something not offered to the masses, they are more inclined to feel a close affiliation with us and our institutions.

Most people like to be invited to an exclusive gathering (e.g., backstage).  Most people like to have special arrangements made for them (e.g., great seats).  Most people like to have experiences that would not otherwise be made available to them (e.g., being on a Broadway stage, if only for a few minutes).

My wife and I experienced the Law of Exclusivity that evening.  And it helped make the evening wonderfully memorable.  It also made us feel as if we are now “Broadway insiders.”  Intellectually, we know this isn’t true, but we feel this way.

And isn’t this exactly the way we want our donors to feel about our institutions?

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