And yet emotions are at the core of our success as fundraisers. In the arts, emotions are on raw display so often on stage. It is the power of emotions that truly drives our campaigns, and when we can connect the emotions from the stage with the emotions in the heart of our patrons that they give most earnestly.
In summarizing the textbook, Science of Giving, which studies the research done on philanthropy and how people give, Katya Andresen makes her very first point about the emotional nature of giving that she found as a thread throughout the research.
1. Giving is mostly emotional and irrational.The right brain tends to rule the left in giving, and people donate out of feeling more than thinking. In fact, if you get people to stop and think, they tend to give less.
So how do we use our own emotions in a way that can help us summon this success?
I was at a greek restaurant with my girlfriend near my mom's home that I always enjoyed late one night. They have these amazing giant lamb chops that I decided I needed to bury myself in after a long, long day of putting my grandpa in his grave and helping host the stream of people coming to comfort us all. My girlfriend and I were the last customers there, and they were wonderfully gracious about it.
It felt natural to me that to be generous on an insane day like that, in thanks for the great service, to honor my grandpa, in memory of long-ago days when I also had had long days as a server and had wanted to finish my day and go home, would make me feel better and be well-deserved. I gave our server a very generous tip, and once he came to collect it, I got ready to go. I heard him discover the tip with his companions, and it made me smile to know that on such a day, one person at least was joyous through such a simple act as giving.
What really struck me though was that that wasn't the end. The server ran out of the back of the restaurant as we were about to walk out with an enormous piece of the house special cake, a pineapple-upside down cake with real whipped cream and a generous dusting of cinnamon. He insisted that his manager had wished us to enjoy it.
I was stunned. In all the years I've occasionally popped in there while visiting my mom, they hadn't made it a policy to give away luscious desserts. Certainly, I hadn't given the tip with any hopes of gaining anything myself. And, oh, how I was stuffed from the meal. I took one bite of the thank you cake to be polite, and asked the kind server to wrap up the rest so I could enjoy it later (and did I ever). I went again later in the week for more lamb chops with my mom.
There's a lesson there in giving, in what giving gives you, in stewardship, in the potential lifetime value of those that give, all from the seat of emotional, irrational giving. I think I'll step back and let the story stand on its own and simply take this moment to thank you, my noble readers, for the tremendous outpouring of support and comfort in this difficult time. Knowing that there are so many people out there that are thinking of me is part of what is making it possible to get back to an even-keel. Know that you are deeply appreciated.
But don't worry, I don't expect pineapple upside-down cake from each of you.