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Your donor is crying. Now what?

on Jan 6, 2016

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Every fundraiser earning their pay knows that emotion drives the majority of giving, especially in annual and monthly programs. At a recent IFC conference Dan Hill, author of Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success said:

If you want to be successful at fundraising, the more you make people think, the less they feel; and the less they feel, the less they are motivated to give.

This has been true in my experience, until gift sizes begin to outstrip a donor’s own budget for an impulse buy. When the gift crosses that line – which is different for everyone – emotion alone isn’t enough to put them at ease. Trust, logic, and accountability become drivers alongside emotion.

What’s not a primary driver for giving? Complexity.

Issues are complex, and your projects are complex. How we communicate to them to donors should not be.

Advertisers have long described success as a strong ideas simply presented. A radical fundraiser does the same, but understands that success for us isn’t measured in units sold or increased market share. Success for us means lives saved, policy changed, or opinions altered.

There’s connective tissue between the head and the heart. You don’t have to choose between one or the other. In fact, neglecting one or the other is a disservice to your donor.

Never underestimate anyone’s ability or willingness to learn about the most complicated social issues. After all, the deeper you’re able to bring your supporters into the day-to-day of your organization, the more engaged and generous they are likely to be in the future.

If you’ve struggled to translate your complex programming detail into compelling copy, here are 5 tips:

1. Familiarize yourself with the readability scoring in Microsoft Word.
2. Fresh eyes from outside your organization will be able to point out jargon or unclear logic.
3. Write a draft, then let it sit. Come back in a more relaxed state and I promise, you’ll find areas to improve.
4. Practice, practice, practice. Talk to service clubs, schools, and associations about your work.
5. Photography is your friend. Ideally, a single subject in action to propel your story forward.

This post was by Brock Warner. Currently in Toronto, Brock works to foster and place value on philanthropy, no matter the size of gift. As a fundraising professional, Brock values the ‘how’ as much as the ‘how much’ and to see our hard work be a catalyst for positive change. Connect with him on Twitter at @BrockWarner or on LinkedIn.

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