Dr. Russell James is a leading expert in philanthropy and charitable giving. He generously shares his knowledge and resources for free to help nonprofit fundraisers strengthen their fundraising programs.
His recent presentation in the Donor Participation Project offered key insights into effectively using storytelling to motivate donors.
You can view the entire presentation video in our Resource Library.
Dr. James emphasized the importance of evoking a clear visual image and generating social emotion.
A vague, complicated, or confusing story won’t trigger the mental visualization needed to feel empathy. Focus on a single sympathetic character and share specific details to help the audience envision them.
Too much complexity also inhibits giving by making the story hard to follow. Find the right balance of details to fill in the picture without overcomplicating things.
For major gifts, the most compelling story is the donor’s own story.
Ask open-ended questions to understand their journey and values. Then find meaningful connections between what they share and your mission to build their motivation to give. Help them define what victory would look like to inspire their support.
Dr. James studies neuroimaging to understand the science behind generosity. His research shows that donating depends on empathy and taking the perspective of the character or beneficiary in the story. The more donors can identify with a story, the more motivated they will feel to give.
Surveys are a useful tool for learning details to personalize stories and relationships at scale.
Dr. James generously provides free resources to help nonprofits strengthen their fundraising. He shares his knowledge through presentations, videos, slide decks, and four books on encouraging generosity. Connect with him on LinkedIn to gain access to these valuable materials. His insights and scientific approach to philanthropy can help any nonprofit achieve their mission through smarter, more effective fundraising.
Take advantage of this opportunity to learn from an expert in the field!