When they Don't Need the Money, Offer what They DO need

Someone in your town has property (a site or building) that you need, but they do not need the money. Discover and offer what they DO need.

David Thornell

5/22/20244 min read

It happens in almost every community, but I believe that one highly visible site or building that is derelict and dilapidated causes more damage in a small town than in a larger community. People see-notice it (more) and wonder, "why hasn't someone taken care of that and made better use of it?" It's poor condition also drags down the value of every other property around it, and can even ruin a downtown. The blame will almost always fall at the feet of the city, as the owner is often out of town (doesn't have to see it every day) and has no motivation to sell. Certainly there are some that have tried to buy it, but their attempt begins and ends with a financial offer. The problem is that, for some wealthy individuals, or those who inherit a property (had no cash outlay in acquiring), money is not a motivator.

It is interesting that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (that we all learned in high school) does not mention money....by name. Money may be used to meet the lower level Physiological needs and Safety needs, but these may also be met without money. The sub-goals listed on these first two levels include the acquisition and availability of food, water, warmth, rest, security, good health and protection, Nowhere does Maslow proclaim, "but you better pull out your wallet to make these happen." The top three levels steer even further away from the necessity of money. Number three is Love and Belonging (close intimate relationships and multiple solid friendships). These are followed on the fourth level by Esteem (prestige and feelings of accomplishment that bolster self-esteem). Once this level is reached, there is only one more step up, which is Self-Actualization. This means achieving ones full potential, i.e., "Be All You Can Be." As everything below level five must be reached first, Maslow believed that this level is only achieved by a relative few.

As the validity of the Hierarchy of needs and their order continues to be debated even today (80 years since their first publication), one thing that everyone can agree on is that humans have a variety of needs and go about daily finding ways to fill them.

What does this have to do with your obstinate, non-caring, "I don't need the money" land owner? If you need them to cooperate and sell their property to you, determine how many ways you can satisfy a need they have that has nothing to do with a dollar amount. They may want to make the property exchange a part of their legacy, with a brass plaque that will be in place well after they are gone. This may have their name engraved with tides of gratitude and the date, or the building or program-activity within may even be given their name for perpetuity. This approach results in in giving them immediate esteem, new friendships, self-satisfaction, and creates higher regard, respect and admiration not only for themselves, but also for current and future generations of their family. The old saying, "they made a name for themselves by...........," can be finished on a positive note for years to come. Approach the person with statements that can satisfy these higher needs. Use your own words to fit your situation, but stop leading with, "how much would it take for me to buy your property?" Instead, don't even mention money. Come up with a proposal that fits the property, the place and the person. How about; I have an idea for your property that I want to run by you. Let's work together to accomplish something transformational, is good for both of us, and will give you more than money that for the long-term is perhaps more important than money. This is something that people will remember you for positively from now on. It is also something that proves your generosity and love for both the property and the town, It will help others. It will be recognized as a leader of its type. It will be a source of pride for you, your family and the entire community. And so on. This even applies if a building has to be torn down. There is a replacement plan that will be better than before and they will receive instant recognition and long-term credit for it.

As the stubborn owner knows that their property has been neglected and has led to criticism, why wouldn't they be curious enough to accept a meeting with the Mayor or a small group of leaders to hear what they propose to do with their property? Again, no need to lead with money, as there are many other human needs and ways to satisfy these on Maslow's scale. The amount of money can be worked out once the concept has been accepted as mutually agreeable. Even then, they may decide to donate it. That way, any dollars set aside to acquire the property can be used to finally do something good on a bad property. As I mention in the book, Small Town Solutions (available on Amazon), money is too often used as a excuse to not do things because "we can't afford it." All the while, money may not even be needed in some cases to bring about a solution. Also, good ideas attract money as well as other partners who have valuable resources to provide.

How about beginning all planning processes in your town by listing everything, except money, that you already have or can get (bring to the table) to make a positive project happen. You may be surprised at how many tools, allies and resources you already have in-hand to get things done. SO, instead of worrying about money, arguing about money, hiding behind "we don't have money," you can in many cases-instances as a town say, "we don't need the money." Try it.