I’ve been writing a lot about the role of emotion in fundraising.
That’s because it’s so important! But let’s take it another step.
Fundraisers often talk about relationship fundraising as opposed to transactional fundraising. You know donors aren’t ATMs and shouldn’t be treated that way.
But there is an exchange that happens with a donation. It’s a mistake to think donors only give us money and get nothing in return.
And I’m not talking tote bags, folks.
I’m talking emotional satisfaction.
Do you know about emotional triggers? These triggers activate the emotions that drive human behavior. They make it more likely someone will respond to your request.
I don’t remember who first clued me in to these triggers. I know Tom Ahern has written about them. And Mal Warwick added positive triggers. I’ve worked with a list at my side for years.
There are more than what’s here. But these are the ones I keep handy.
Remember, we don’t make choices based on logic. At the heart of every decision is a feeling. Emotions drive decisions. It’s human nature.
So, ok, these triggers work. They’re powerful because the feelings they provoke demand a response. So they help you bring in more donations. (You can read more about using emotional triggers in your appeals here.)
But what’s in it for the donor? What is it she’s hoping to receive?
If you’re smart, you won’t think just about triggering a gift. You’ll think about how to respond to the donor’s impulse in a way that builds on the gift. You’ll think about it from the donor’s point of view.
Don’t just take – think about what you can give.
There are answers for every trigger.
Put yourself in your donor’s place and think – no, feel – through them.
If the fear that something bad will happen moved her to give, she wants the relief of knowing she’s helped to avoid it.
Winter is coming. And they say it will be a bad one. For some people, that’s annoying.
For others, it’s life or death.
Without your help, people like Joe will be sleeping out in weather that’s not safe. As the temperatures plummet, so will his chances of surviving the night.
You can do something to change that – if you act before it’s too late.
And your answer:
You may have saved a life. Your gift is that important.
Let me explain: because you chose to give, someone like Joe had emergency shelter. You brought him in from the killing cold. Thank you.
If guilt has motivated him, he wants absolution.
This Thanksgiving, your table will be set with a feast.
You’ll share a special meal with people you love. You’ll probably eat too much and feel uncomfortable. And you’ll be grateful.
But not everyone will have something to share. For people like Maria, Thanksgiving is hard.
When the rest of the country is celebrating, she’s hoping to find enough food to keep her kids from crying.
Can you share your celebration with her?
This Thanksgiving, we’re especially grateful for you. And so are families like Maria’s. Your generous gift meant they had something to celebrate, too.
You chose to act in the spirit of Thanksgiving. You shared what you have with people who desperately need it.
If anger, your donor wants to see action. If exclusivity triggers the gift, answer by confirming your donor’s importance. And so on.
Pay attention to your donor’s emotion both before and after the gift.
Most official acknowledgments don’t even come close to filling that need. Official gratitude is nice, but not enough.
If you’ve triggered an emotion, you owe your donor the response she’s seeking.
That’s why really good thanks matter. And why it’s not enough to thank a donor and put her aside until the next ask. Reporting on the impact of the gift is critical, too.
Keep the cycle going to keep the relationship alive.
Your emotional trigger demands action. Your donor’s action needs to be satisfied emotionally. Do that with meaningful thanks. Then remember to report back on the results of her gift – and why her decision mattered.
Want to read more on emotion and emotional triggers? Here are some interesting articles I’ve been reading.
Photo credit: by asenat29
Need help with your appeals, newsletters or thank you letters?
I’ve got some time left this fall for a couple of great clients. Let me know if that’s you!