6 ways to connect to donors’ brains

This might bother you some, but it’s an inescapable truth: Your donors overwhelmingly use what neuroscientists call Primal Brain when deciding whether or not to donate. That is the primitive, not-rational part of the brain that is about survival, not higher things.

You will raise a lot more money if you acknowledge this truth rather than fight against it.

Here’s a helpful post from the Neuromarketing Blog on how to connect with the Primal Brain, at What can persuasion science tell you about the effect of your messages on the brain? Give your fundraising these characteristics:

  1. Personal. The Primal Brain cares mainly about itself. And it’s more interested in threats than opportunities.
  2. Contrastable. The Primal Brain pays attention to clear binary contrasts before/after, risky/safe, with/without.
  3. Tangible. The Primal Brain ignores complex and abstract information. Keep your message simple, easy to grasp, and concrete.
  4. Memorable. Tell stories and be incredibly repetitious if you want the Primal Brain to remember.
  5. Visual. The Primal Brain pays a lot more attention to visual input than anything else.
  6. Emotional. The Primal Brain doesn’t care much about facts and figures. But emotional content drives it to action!


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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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