Every fundraiser knows that story telling is critical. And stories are full of feelings. You know…all those emotions…like anger, fear, greed, guilt, flattery, exclusivity, salvation. And hope and love and and and…
Suddenly reason steps in. The fundraiser is explaining the rational rationale why you, the donor, should give. Oh my. Oh dear. Could we be any dumber? Yes, just plain dumb according to tons of research. (Just visit Tom Ahern and all his writings about neuroscience from all those neuroscience researchers. Read Seth Godin’s great blog, “A reason persuasion is surprisingly difficult.” And check out the research he’s referring to.
That’s bad enough….pursuing reason when emotion is what makes action happen. (I just love this quote by Canadian neurologist Donald Calne: “The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action, while reason leads to conclusions.” As a fundraiser – or marketer of any kind – I hope you want action!)
But too often, fundraisers (and their board members and staff colleagues) get confused about which stories and whose stories. Then the story listening part of the work gets lost somewhere in translation. You’re not listening to my story. And rest assured, that can get pretty ugly. Check out this article about fundraisers denying me my story.
Seth is pretty darn great at talking about story telling and story listening and who the story belongs to. Here’s one of my Seth all-time favorites. “The brand is a story. But it’s a story about you, not the brand.” And the “you” is the prospect, the donor, the customer, the buyer…
Here’s how Seth describes marketing – and what I call the non-listening problem. “Marketing is the empathetic act of telling a story that works, that’s true for the person hearing it, that stands up to scrutiny. But marketing is not about merely sharing what you, the marketer believes. It’s about what we, the listener, believe.”
And here’s one last thought: “Everything is a tale. What we believe, what we know. What we remember, even what we dream. Everything is a story, a narrative, a sequence of events with characters communicating an emotional content. We only accept as true what can be narrated.” [Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel’s Game]