How your donors’ hearts drive their giving

publication date: Nov 2, 2011
author/source: Leanne Hitchcock
Long-time fundraiser Fraser Green of Good Works has written a new book called 3D Philanthropy:  Make Your Donors Love You By Connecting With Their Minds, Hearts and Souls. In a previous issue I interviewed Fraser and asked him about the "mind" component. This article, second in a series of three, focuses on the heart.

Leanne: What can you tell us about the heart, the second component of 3D philanthropy?
Fraser Green photo
Fraser: We are very much emotional animals. Far more of our behaviours day-to-day are driven by our emotions than by our thinking. If giving money to charity is a behaviour, it can be more often generated through an emotional channel than an intellectual channel. The generalization is that emotion is a huge part of the giving process and the fundraising process.

Leanne: Obviously emotion is central to the philanthropic process. Some fundraisers have opposed using negative stories or imagery, citing that people "want to give to winners." How do you respond to that?

Fraser: I don't want to see the starving child in Africa. However, if I do see it, I may be more prone to give. You don't dwell on the macabre. How do you feel seeing that starving kid? How would you feel if you saw that kid a week from now happy and playing soccer with some meat on his bones? 

Really, what it boils down to is as simple as this:  Identify the problem. Present a solution. Build the credibility of the asker and the ask.

Leanne: When fundraisers think about the role emotions play in philanthropy, what have they been missing previously?  What is the "Aha!" moment?

Fraser: The other thing I tried to do was to spend a lot of time understanding the emotional palette in an intellectual way. There are four fundamental emotions. We have them for good reasons. They are part of our Darwinian wiring and we developed them in order to survive. They're wired in us very deeply.

If we are tuned into what these emotions are and why we have them, we can use emotional tuning to hone our messages in an appropriate way that strikes an initial chord. I never want to suggest or imply that we manipulate them. But when they are there, we want to express emotions in a powerful way.

What I tried to do with the emotional part of the book is to give people - as simply as possible - a road map to human emotions so that they could identify them, understand them and be better able to appeal to them.

Leanne: What are those four fundamental emotions?

Fraser: The four fundamental emotions are happiness, sadness, anger and fear. Anxiety is a form of fear.

If you are trying to make a case to redevelop the mouth of the Don River for homeless people, you need to tap into different emotions. For example, press the sadness button by talking about the living conditions they live in now. Anger - wealthy people walk by and don't look them in the eye and so on. As fundraisers, we need to construct emotional messages and generate emotions through the way that we communicate.

It provides readers with a map or a toolkit about how to get to the emotional terrain more confidently. If you use this component in your communication, you will connect with your donors on a deeper level.

The next article will focus on the third element: the soul.

PREPUBLICATION SPECIAL OFFER:  Order your copy of 3D Philanthropy now and save!  ($22/copy, regularly priced at $30).  To receive your deeply discounted price for pre-publication orders of 3D Philanthropy, click here:

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