Stories bridge the age gap for fundraisers

I think I’m pretty cool. In fact, my middle-aged friends and I are way cooler than most people in their 20s and 30s — who are, frankly, kind of dweeby and clueless as a group.

Okay, that’s just ageism. But we all think that way. We prefer people of our own age group and tend to think of others as outsiders. And this is one of the main reasons so much fundraising is so ineffective.

Here’s an antidote, from the Ageless Marketing blog: Why Marketers Need to Tell Stories in Older Markets.

As we age, the right hemispheres of our brains grow more and more dominant. That changes what we consider compelling, interesting, and persuasive. What does that mean to those who want to motivate older people to action?

Tell stories.

The right brain loves stories. The left brain couldn’t care less — in fact in its impatience to get to the point directly and fast, stories are bothersome. On the other hand the right brain turns a deaf ear to declarative statements filled with facts and product claims.

This is even more true for fundraising than for other types of marketing. Charitable giving is fundamentally an emotional, right-brain act, no matter what age you are. A pure left-brain analysis tells you that giving away money for nothing in return is not rational. The right brain has wisdom that the left brain doesn’t grasp.

When you combine the right-brainedness of giving with the fact that most donors are older, you end up with a deeply story-driven way to communicate.

This is one of the reasons fundraising is difficult. The people who create fundraising messages are largely early and mid-career. Their left brains are more active, so they tend to be more persuaded by facts. Their biggest mistakes are when they try to persuade themselves rather than their actual audience.

But there’s one easy rule to keep in mind: Tell stories. You can hardly go wrong when you do.


Comments

4 responses to “Stories bridge the age gap for fundraisers”

  1. I love your perspective that stories are timeless! At my nonprofit, our fundraising team benefits from both millennial and boomer perspectives. Having different ages represented in our team helps us reach the different generations of our donors!

  2. I love your perspective that stories are timeless! At my nonprofit, our fundraising team benefits from both millennial and boomer perspectives. Having different ages represented in our team helps us reach the different generations of our donors!

  3. You’ve captured the true essence of effective fundraising. While most other industries and brands need a balance of the heart (emotional) and head (rational), fundraising is much more emotionally driven. By touching the heart first, the head will surely follow (and so will their checkbooks!).
    Thanks for a great and relevant read!

  4. You’ve captured the true essence of effective fundraising. While most other industries and brands need a balance of the heart (emotional) and head (rational), fundraising is much more emotionally driven. By touching the heart first, the head will surely follow (and so will their checkbooks!).
    Thanks for a great and relevant read!

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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.