Friday, December 11, 2009

Does Your Fundraising Make Me Feel Happy and Hopeful?

I've been sharing the Outside article, Nicholas Kristof's Advice for Saving the World with lots of folks this week. In it, the New York Times columnist and blogger writes about what mobilizes people to get involved in social change. The gist of his conclusions were:
  • People are moved to do good in order to feel good.
  • People are moved to help individuals.
  • People are moved by hopeful and inspiring stories.
  • People are moved by the opportunity to make a successful impact.
This all seems like common sense, but think of how many annual appeal letters you receive that tell sad stories, quote miserable statistics, and in general make you feel like, "What's the point of giving $50, or volunteering, it won't make a difference?" People want to feel like they are able to make a difference, which may be why, "Yes We Can," resonated with Obama supporters.

For example, in her post, Here’s a good fundraising appeal: I gave on Katya's Nonprofit Blog, Katya Andresen shares 5 reasons she liked the appeal she received from Imagination Stage.
1. The gratitude
2. The clear demonstration this is an organization that has tightened its belt and will stretch my dollar
3. The tangible sense of where the money goes
4. A reminder of why we love the arts and what it does for kids
5. More gratitude
The appeal made her feel good, hopeful, and confident that her donation would make an impact.

Likewise, in the post, How Many Thank-Yous Will I Get This Year? on Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog, Kivi Leroux Miller writes about how important it is for organizations to write thank you notes. She is repeating an experiment that she tried last year, where she donated to 12 charities, and waited to see how many thank you notes she would receive.

The result of last year's experiment, which she wrote about in, Can a Girl Get a Thank-You Note, Please?, was that 4 of the 12 charities sent a thank you note. Her favorite came from Interplast because it told the story, with photos, of one boy whose life would be changed because of donations like hers.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of bad news, angry emails, sad photos, and depressing statistics. Why would I donate or give my time to a lost cause? Please, help me believe that, yes, we can.

Flickr photo credit: Happy Happy Cookie uploaded by CarbonNYC/David Goehring.

Cross-posted from

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  1. Great post, Britt. Thanks for the shout-out!

  2. Dear Britt
    to help you believe...
    You should read IM Magazine, the online magazine that covers the best things in the world... for a better world.
    There, all you have are good news! And to know the bright side of the world surely make us more positive, hopeful, trustful, and willing to be part of it.


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