Connect to Your Donor’s Head and Heart

Here at Impact we’re big fans of storytelling. It’s our experience that telling a story puts a human face on a problem and helps donors connect to the issue.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t use some facts and statistics too! It’s the magic combination of reaching your donor at the head and the heart level that we are constantly striving for—the perfect mix of emotion and data.

So I was intrigued by this post from Tom Peterson at Thunderhead Works yesterday, “Use Inspiring Statistics to Move us to Action.”

As Tom says, “Almost every statistic is dreadfully boring. You shouldn’t use them to try to persuade us of anything.”

BUT some statistics really can work to help you tell an important story and move donors to action…shocking statistics.

Here is one of my favorite examples of a statistic that really works, from Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry Campaign:

1 in 5 American kids live in households that struggle to put food on the table.

Most of us are shocked to learn that fact, so there is power in the statement alone.

But you can make hard data resonate even more.

For example, try connecting the statistic directly to your donor. Here’s an example of how we’ve done that for the fact above:

If you knew a child in your neighborhood was hungry, you would help her in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?
Sadly, 1 in 5 American kids face hunger—and that’s a travesty in a country as wealthy as ours.

Another way to put statistics to work reaching the hearts of your donors is by connecting the data directly to one person’s story.  Here’s another example:

Six-year-old James was discovered stuffing handfuls of ketchup packets into his pockets at his community’s summer meals site. “I hope it’s okay,” he said. “I bring them home and when we have enough saved up, me and my grandma make tomato soup.”

It breaks my heart that any child in our country would think of ketchup—mixed with water—as dinner. But I assure you this heart-wrenching story is a reality for many of our nation’s children. In fact, one in five U.S. kids faces hunger. 

Some facts really are powerful, and I urge you to check out Tom’s blog for more on that. But also keep in mind that what makes some statistics shocking and impactful is how they are connected to your donor and to the meaningful cause you serve. You can best serve that cause when you reach your donor with stories and statistics that combine to help them understand something fundamentally important and to feel strong emotion and an impulse to act…when you get them to connect to your message through both the head and the heart.

– Lisa Swayze

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