“Warm glow” fundraising reaches donors where they are

One of the main reasons your donors give has nothing at all to do with you and your cause. They give because it feels good to give — the warm glow of altruism.

And reminding them of that is often very good fundraising.

Here’s an interesting test reported at MarketSmart: It’s all about the “warm glow”.

The test was an email that went to Alaska residents, asking them to donate to a state charitable fund. There were two versions:

  1. Make Alaska Better, that is, give because it’s a worthy cause.
  2. Warm your heart — give because it’ll feel good.

Those who got the Warm your heart message responded more (30% more), and gave a 55% higher average gift.

That’s a pretty convincing difference.

Not everyone likes to raise funds with a message like that. They feel it undermines the importance of their brand or their cause.

But it can work because it’s based on a psychological reality that probably matters more to the donor than everything you hold important. And successful fundraising comes from connecting with donors and their lives — not by showing them how important your cause is or how wonderful your organization is.

Good fundraising is always about the donor.

(This post first appeared on July 27, 2015.)


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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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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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