What happens in donors’ brains when they give

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reminds us of one of the most important truths all fundraisers should keep in mind: Giving is good for givers. See Hard-Wired for Giving. It’s a long article with a lot of information, but here’s a key takeaway on what scientists have discovered about charitable giving:

… when people made the decision to donate to what they felt was a worthy organization, parts of the midbrain lit up — the same region that controls cravings for food and sex, and the same region that became active when the subjects added money to their personal reward accounts.

If you think you leave your donors a few dollars poorer and a little annoyed after they give, you’re wrong. As a fundraiser, you do a tremendous service to donors. So raise funds like you mean it. You’re not only funding your cause — you’re helping your donors make their lives better.


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2 responses to “What happens in donors’ brains when they give”

  1. Can you post some advice on speaking to donors who are not individual donors (corporate as well as grant writing) in terms of what motivates them and how to appeal and recognize them? Would really appreciate it!

  2. Can you post some advice on speaking to donors who are not individual donors (corporate as well as grant writing) in terms of what motivates them and how to appeal and recognize them? Would really appreciate it!

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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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