It’s a hazard of our age, I guess. I hope it’s not one of our profession, though.
You’ve heard that storytelling is key to good fundraising.
And you’ve heard that focusing on our donors and showing them need and appreciation are critical.
You’ve heard that treating donors well is also critical – but too often doesn’t happen.
Where’s the humanity?
A fundraising lesson from Twitter
If you’ve ever caught yourself feeling less than hopeful about donors and fundraising, I want to share something that I watched happen on Twitter.
I have blurred out names and images because this isn’t about particular people. In fact, it’s about just plain people and how they are motivated to care.
It began with a tweet. A tweet like many others – made out of frustration and fear. Not from an organization. From a person. Probably out of a human need to be heard, to be appreciated.
Her tweet was immediately met with empathy. Some people also shared stories of similar situations.
Then the story did what we hope our fundraising stories will do: bring out the best, most caring sides of complete strangers.
Our storyteller declined the offers of help. She hadn’t come to Twitter looking for money – just for kindness.
But plenty of people – who didn’t know her at all – jumped right in to help.
A compelling story.
In a tweet, we see a situation (a need for insulin, which is too expensive). We see lots of emotion (a mother’s tears, her fears for her child, frustration about the expense, and willingness to spend her last money to protect her child, while not wanting the child to worry.)
As she says, she has love and worry.
A relatable and urgent need.
Anyone who has been a child or a parent can empathize with these feelings. Wanting to protect our loved ones is elemental. And most people have to worry now about medical needs.
Who hasn’t gone to fill a new prescription and had the pharmacist pause before giving it to you? “Do you know how much this is?”
The lesson here: donors like to give. Trust their humanity.
We like feeling good about helping someone in need. We need to believe that we’re good people. And helping someone – even a stranger on Twitter – makes us feel good.
There is too much in the world right now to make us angry and afraid. And when we feel threatened, there’s a human tendency to curl up – to protect ourselves and our own and close out the world.
But fundraising offers an alternative. One that helps the donor – and erodes the fear and anger in the world.
We’re lucky to do this for a living. And we’re lucky that there are plenty of people out there willing to be donors. Eager, even.
We just need to do our best to share human-level stories of need. And to respect our donors and show them all the gratitude we can muster. Every day.
What finally happened?
I don’t know. Soledad O’Brien seemed interested in learning more. So maybe this won’t be the last we hear about the situation or even this particular person.
But maybe my favorite tweet in the thread came near the end.