Neuroscience can help fundraisers

May 21, 2018

Thanks to MRI machines, we can monitor what’s happening in the human brain.

For example, did you know: When you’re the victim of a mistake – if the handling of that mistake is really good – you experience a dopamine high. (If you don’t know what a dopamine high is, check it out!) That dopamine high can be great … I almost think we should make mistakes on purpose to give our donors a dopamine high. (On the other hand, I figure we all make sufficient mistakes that what we really need to do is to handle mistakes very very very well!)

So here’s my story of my dopamine high! One day, I get a very nice email from EMILY’S List, indicating that it appears that I haven’t renewed my membership. And how much I matter as a member and what my participation has accomplished.

I checked my checkbook and, as I had remembered, I had renewed.

So I called EMILY’S List. A human being answered. I asked for the development office. A human being answered. Wow. Not caught in voicemail hell!

The development officer immediately looked me up in the database. Quickly and efficiently. No referral to someone else!

I had renewed. She apologized very graciously and corrected the entry.

I wasn’t angry or even annoyed. Everyone makes mistakes. No big deal at all. Off I went to my appointments.

I returned home and there was a very gracious email apology. Then a couple hours later, a personal call from the chief development officer apologizing. That was so unnecessary. No need for another apology!!

And then… After apologizing to me personally, the chief development officer said: “Do you realize that in 4 more days, it will be the anniversary of your 20thyear as an EMILY’S LIST member? Thank you so much.”

What an amazing experience. Talk about a dopamine high! I tell everyone this story. I repeat this story over and over when presenting.

Thank you EMILY’S LIST. You gave my brain a dopamine high. You made me admire you even more.

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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