By: Jennifer Bielat

Is Your Nonprofit Harnessing the Creative Power of Empathy?

em·pa·thy /ˈem-pə-THē/ noun: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

When it comes to connecting your organization with like-minded donors, there is nothing more important than empathy. This is the secret sauce that exceptional nonprofit creative uses to really grab donors. Empathy is what tells people: You know that thing you care about so much, we care about it too!!

You want to show donors you share their worldview—while also expanding it. At Pursuant, we believe our job in acquisition is to stimulate action on the part of the donor through some respectful disruption of the way they currently see things. There are a few different ways you can do that...

How Nonprofits Are Using Empathy to Reach New Donors

Here are a few examples of different nonprofit creative efforts that get attention for the right reasons, communicate unique value, and inspire donors to “swipe right” and want to continue on the journey:

  1. National Math + Science Initiative

Mission: Aims to advance STEM education worldwide.

Effort: Through social media and email, they introduced different inventions from women in the STEM field and had them compete in a March Madness-style bracket. They asked people to vote for the inventions they felt were most important or spoke to them the most. They also gathered names and emails along the way of people interested in the topic.

Empathy: Created a connection between the organization and people who care about STEM and opportunities for women in the field.

  1. Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Mission: Provides guide dogs to people with vision loss.

Effort: Since the common denominator between everyone involved with this organization—from volunteers and donors to staff and recipients—was love for dogs, they launched a unique peer-to-peer fundraising event. The Wag-a-thon was a virtual marathon that people could participate in with their dogs. Rather than running 26.2 miles, you and your dog would walk it over the course of a month to raise money for the cause.

Empathy: This was a way to reach out to people based on the shared value of love for dogs—and draw them into an organization that also shares those values.

  1. Museum of Science in Boston

Mission: Transforming the nation’s relationship with science and technology.

Effort: To promote the museum’s Charles Hayden Planetarium, they launched a fun, playful online quiz: “Which Constellation Are You?” People could answer a series of questions, then submit their email addresses to find out their specific answers. Participants where then re-marketed with an offer to “buy a star” by making a donation to the museum.   

Empathy: Connecting people who express an interest in a key area of the museum in an easy, frictionless way to develop a relationship moving forward.

Use Your Creative to Communicate Shared Values with Donors

Let prospective donors know you believe in the same things that they believe in; that your frustrations are their frustrations. This is tough to do—especially in acquisition when you’re just scratching the surface and starting to develop relationships—but when you can pull it off, it’s incredibly powerful.

Learn more ways you can capture the hearts of your best donors and make a lasting impact. Download our free resource First Impressions of Acquisition today.

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