Tap into emotion – remind yourself how your supporters and donors feel.

This week the CEO the Resource Alliance Kyla Shawyer wrote a rally call in her blog on 101 Fundraising. calling for a new kind of leader. It's worth reading : Transformative change depends on a new kind of leader.

She included this gem within:

At a previous organisation where I served, we asked donors of all giving levels why they gave and literally recorded their answers. We then brought everyone from the organisation — board and all — into a theatre, turned down the lights and asked them to just listen. It was immensely powerful to hear the words directly from our donors and helped the whole organisation truly connect with and understand their thoughts and feelings, and to see them as the integral part of the organization that they were.

Which reminded me of something we instigated at SolarAid. On the website we included a simple free text box when people gave a donation simply saying ‘can you please tell us why you have chosen to donate to SolarAid?’. Each week I would pick the best comments and circulate them to staff and trustees. I think it has the double benefit of reminding the donor why they are giving to us at the very moment of giving – improving the donor experience if you like – as well as providing us some wonderful insights and comments.

As I was about to tweet a link to Kyla’s blog when I spotted a tweet that caught my attention. It was a link to a video on how to be more rational.


The video which is only a few minutes long gives you a couple of simple tips on how to think rationally by trying and shut out the emotional part of brain. In essence when trying to be rational you need to pretend you are giving advice to someone else so you can step outside of yourself.

Now when it comes to fundraising we want to do the opposite. We want to think more emotionally not rationally. We want to try and understand why donors decided give to us. And as I touched on in my last post the part of the brain that makes decisions is where emotion resides – not the rational part which does all the analysis and processes language.

So Kyla’s suggestion to remind yourself of why donors give to you to help you understand, even feel, how they feel makes neurological sense! It means you counter that rational and reasoning part of your brain with the thinking that helps you tap into the emotional part of your brain and why people really support you – and hence insights into what led to them to make the decision and take the extraordinary human act of donating, fundraising or supporting you in some way.

wallj<<< At ActionAid we even developed a supporter wall near the staff kitchen of a real donor which included all the charities they supported – not just ActionAid – and all things they got involved with. It felt right to go to the trouble at the time. But now I know the science of why it does help. Check out Ken Burnett’s thoughts on the benefits of reminding yourself of those who donate and support the cause you work for :  Whats on your wall?

Where the science and art of fundraising meet !

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