Brain Science Secrets. . . for Better Fundraising

Fundraising success comes from influencing donor behavior. At #Bridge17, Nancy Harhut, of HBT Inc. and Joe Harr, from AARP, shared how they are using brain science to help achieve fundraising success.

Their session, “Brain Science Secrets: How to Get the Behavior You Seek,” was a lot of fun. Here are few of their key tips:

  • Give the donor a reason to agree. If you’re talking to someone, or even writing a fundraising appeal to them, start with the most agreeable points. Simple questions like, “Nice day, isn’t it?” give them the opportunity to say yes . . . and keep saying yes when they hear your fundraising ask.
  • Reframe or recontextualize to make it easier for people to say “yes.” Would you buy a plug-in air freshener marketed to cover unpleasant odors? Sure, if you needed to. But those of us without stinky problems to disguise might not think the product is for us. Bath & Body Works reframed their air fresheners to grant them greater universal appeal – claiming the product makes “every room a destination.”
  • Use your words carefully. Certain words and phrases will subconsciously encourage the donor by reiterating the importance of their gift. By including the simple phrase, “even a penny will help,” American Cancer Society raised their response rate from 38% to 50%.
  • Tell more stories. It’s a proven fact from neuroscience that storytelling activates more parts of the brain. And, when 80% of decisions are emotion-driven, the more parts of the brain you can touch with your messaging, the greater the chances your donor will give.

On that last point, the members of Impact’s team couldn’t agree more.

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