The two ingredients of stories that motivate giving

Here’s a video about story-telling that every fundraisers should see:

Or watch it here on YouTube.

In short, it describes a study that found the most impactful stories have two key elements:


  1. Distress, produces cortisol, which helps us focus attention on the story.
  2. Empathy, which produces oxytocin, which promotes a sense of connection.

And when these things are present, hearers of the story are much more likely to give.

Do your stories have both distress and empathy in them?


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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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