How to remind your donors that they are connected

by guest blogger George Crankovic. He blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter.

Are people more generous when they feel more connected? Yes, according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, feelings of relatedness effectively promote prosocial behavior, like donating to a charity.

In the first experiment, words that invoke feelings of relatedness — like community, together, connected, and relationship — caused the test participants to report a greater intention toward prosocial behavior, in this case volunteering.

In the second experiment, participants were asked to share a time when they experienced relatedness in their own lives. Again, sharing feelings of relatedness — as opposed to feelings of competence or autonomy — generated more prosocial intentions, like donating to a charity, volunteering, or helping a friend.

In the third experiment, words about relatedness — like community, together, connected, and relationship — caused participants to give more money to a charity than feelings of competency and autonomy and even feelings of empathy.

Overall, according to this research, feelings of relatedness seem pretty important for giving. But the problem is that reading a fundraising appeal you get in the mail, or reading a fundraising email, or looking at a charity’s website — these are all usually solitary endeavors.

Add to this the fact that in our messaging for fundraising appeals we always want to focus on one donor, and speak to that individual donor as personally as we can. That’s good, of course, and it’s the right approach. But on the other hand, it doesn’t necessarily engender feelings of relatedness and being part of a community.

Fortunately, this is something we can address in the messaging for appeals. It might mean using words like community, together, connected, and relationship.

And it could mean pointing out to donors that they’re part of a community — three, in fact

  1. They’re part of the community of your supporters, and all the donors in this special group are working toward the same goal.
  2. Donors are part of the community they live in, and chances are, the work your charity does will make some aspect of living in that community better. It would be good for donors to know that.
  3. Donors are part of the community of humankind, and humans as a group, should help one another make our world better.

These are all things that can establish feelings of relatedness for your donors and can show them how they’re connected to your nonprofit, your supporters, and other people. And, togetherness like that just might inspire more donations. Try it and see.


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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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