We all know the commercial.
The Sarah McLachlan song starts and before you even see the sad puppy eyes, you know what the ad is for.
The next 60 seconds will feel like an hour, forcing you to see sad, desperate animals. You’d have to be heartless to turn away or NOT give, right?
Or think back to Christmas, when you see adorable kids asking you to give to St. Jude’s. They show the kids in the hospital, but bravely smiling.
These are emotional gut punches that hit you hard.
So, why do they keep airing them?
Because the ads work.
Fundraising is emotional, not logical. People make the decision to give money based on feelings, not facts. Facts are partof it- they’ll help the person justify their choice to give. But ultimately, the choice to hit the donate button or put the check in the mail comes from feeling.
This is why your fundraising should be emotional—if it’s not emotional, it won’t work.
It doesn’t have to be as emotional as those gut punching commercials. But, it should let your donor feel something when they read your appeals or newsletters.
Of course, it doesn’t always have to be sadness. You can use anger, joy, disgust or any of the characters from Inside Out.
(If you haven’t seen Pixar’s Inside Out, you should go watch it right away.)
There’s only one emotion we recommend staying far away from: guilt.
Guilt will make your donors feel bad, which might result in a donation, but will also likely lead to resentment. Stay away from guilt.
So…how do you add the right emotions to your fundraising?
The easiest way is through storytelling.
Telling stories of people your ministry/nonprofit helped or how the donor made a difference. Paint the picture and let your donor feel what the person in the story felt.
If you’re raising money to help provide lunches for kids during the summer, show your donors how hungry a kid may be. Show how stressful and heartbreaking it is for a parent to not be able to provide enough food for their family.
Or, maybe your nonprofit just had a big win. Maybe some residents graduated from your program or you opened a new playground for kids. Show the joy and the celebration, invite the donor to share in that excitement.
Let donors see how giving today will celebrate today’s victory and help more positive things occur tomorrow.
Also think of what images you’re using in the appeal.
Make sure it matches the copy and what emotions are being described. If you’re telling a heartbreaking story, then the image probably won’t be an excited, joyful picture. If you’re sharing a success story, then show the joy and success in the art.
Whichever emotion you’re trying to have your donor feel is the one that should be seen in the included art. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever use facts and logic in your fundraising. You can, just make sure you also have emotions. If it only has facts, it’ll read like a report and put your donor to sleep…if they finish.
Questions or comments? Let us know at: howdy@kris-hoots