Why donors respond to stories

Fundraising is a form of “elder marketing.” Get your mind around that fact, and you’ll do well.


One of the things worth remembering about older people is that they think a little differently. Their brains are different from the brains of younger folks in a number of important ways. One of those differences is the way they process emotional and rational information.


Here’s how the Engage:Boomers blog put it at Make It Experiential:



Resistance to emotionally neutral information (mainly processed in the left hemisphere of the brain) increases in midlife. Receptivity to emotionally enriched information — such as stories — increases in midlife. Storytelling has become an important part of market strategy. Whoever tells the best story and tells it best will most likely win.

That’s why stories are so important in fundraising. Stories convey information in an emotionally rich package. Facts don’t do that.


Maybe you’ve looked at a fundraising message and had a reaction like this: It’s totally unconvincing! It’s just emotional fluff! There’s no way people would respond to this!


If you are under age 60, that observation has no value.


Your mom or grandma might say something similar about a very well-developed rational case. That’s just cold and empty! Why would I or anybody else pay attention to that?


Their brains and yours just work differently. That’s the territory if you’re in fundraising. Adjust your thinking to it — or experience a lot of failure.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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