by guest blogger Andrew Rogers
Popular website Lifehacker has published a piece that provides good encouragement and support for effective fundraising (The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains).
It all comes down to the way our brains are wired. Widrich writes:
It's in fact quite simple. If we listen to a powerpoint presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca's area and Wernicke's area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that's it, nothing else happens.
When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.
That's pretty amazing: Our brains fire in the same way whether we're reading a story or living the experience ourselves. Widrich concludes:
Anything you've experienced, you can get others to experience the same. Or at least, get their brain areas that you've activated that way, active too.
To me, this validates one of the many counterintuitive rules of good fundraising: It's often better to tell an unfinished story than one with a happy ending. Vividly creating for the reader the mental experience of battling cancer, suffering persecution, or walking miles for fresh water, then showing her that that it is day-to-day reality for the people you're wanting to help ... it's hard to beat that as a powerful motivator for giving.