People tend to care about what is closest to their lives. I’ve shared this morning on the storytelling page about something close to my life. I have three wonderful little sisters who were adopted and one of them creates a direct link between me and the issues in India. For most people, this issue doesn’t touch them directly. Story is the way we connect people to the causes and issues we care about.
Case in point, two of the largest organizations who are working to end poverty, abuse and child trafficking raised a combined total of 2.54 million dollars in 2010. That sounds like a family large amount until we contrast it with the fact that a very visible cancer research charity raised approximately 400 million the same year. Does that mean that preventing cancer is more important than preventing child slavery? Of course it doesn’t. It also doesn’t mean that donors hold that opinion. It means that cancer is closer to their lives. Most of us know someone who has been directly affected by the disease.
The lesson to learn is that charities with a cause that is close to donors need to tell that story and help them see the value of what they are doing. If your cause is not so close to their lives – something international or something that people don’t talk about – you need to tell human stories that help them realize that you are doing good for people very much like themselves.
(On a side note, $1.2 million was brought in by one of the largest organizations fighting against depression and suicide. This is a domestic issue but one that most people don’t like to talk about.)