The simple way survey respondents lie to you

Here’s an often-overlooked truth from Engage:Boomers, at What We’ve Learned About Marketing To Baby Boomers: “We use different brain sites and mental processes in answering researchers’ hypothetical questions than they use in real life situations.”

That is, the information people give when answering survey questions is not a good indicator of reality. Answering research questions and living life are to completely different activities that are processed by different parts of the mind.

Remember that next time someone says a new survey or focus group has revealed a startling new truth about charitable giving. It probably doesn’t tell you anything useful.

That doesn’t mean this kind of research is useless. You can get ideas and directions from what people say. And those things can lead you to breakthroughs.

But the only research you can trust is actual response to real fundraising.


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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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