How Emotions Trump Thinking

by Network for Good Specialist on ‎04-22-2014 3:00 AM, EDT


By Allison McGuire | @CaliMcG


As many of you know, the key to cause marketing is appealing to your consumers’ emotions. Below is an adapted excerpt from our guide, The Brainiac’s Guide to Cause Marketing, by Katya Andresen. In this guide, Katya outlines why feelings trump logical thinking, drive people to donate, and increase the impact of your cause campaign. Check it out!



Brainiac's Guide to Cause MarketingEmotion, above all else, galvanizes people to act. People support causes because they feel something, not because they think something. In fact, if you make people stop and think, they tend to do less good.


Because people give from an emotional place, giving literally feels good.


David Leonhardt, in his New York Times Magazine article “What Makes People Give?,” points out that this is good news because it means philanthropy is not a zero-sum game. If giving were rational, we’d give less when we heard other big donations were happening. Instead, we have an urge to join forces with a cause.


In his lengthily titled book The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, V..., David Linden explains some biological reasons for the warm glow. Certain activities trigger dopamine in our brain’s pleasure center, making us feel good. We feel pleasure when we eat, drink, and have sex. Also when we do drugs, gamble, learn, exercise, and, yes, give to charity.


What are the takeaways for cause marketers?



1) First, focus on that fact that, above all, you are in the happiness business. Your primary job is to find the emotional core of your initiative and connect it to the consumers you wish to reach. Then give them the opportunity to feel great by doing good.


2) Don’t talk in numbers or statistics. A cerebral case for your cause is less effective than a heartfelt story.


3) Be inspiring. People don’t act because things are bad; they act to make things better. If you only paint a vivid picture of how bad things are, then how can consumers imagine—much less sign up for—a journey toward a better place? Project a brilliant image of what is possible so people can imagine how it will feel to be a part of your efforts.


4) Take a page out of Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment’s handbook. Their campaign, We Can Be Heroes, does a great job focusing on emotion.

By donating to partner nonprofits, this campaign shows how one person can be a hero, helping stop the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. During the first year of the campaign, Warner Bros. matched donations up to a total of $1 million to amplify each individual’s action and sent more than $2 million to Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps.



For more information on the brain science behind why people give, and ways to improve your cause marketing campaign, download The Brainiac’s Guide to Cause Marketing.



Want to learn how Network for Good can help your next cause marketing campaign? Watch our video on corporate giving solutions and contact us for more information.



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Companies for Good shares insights on cause marketing and corporate social responsibility topics to inform your charitable engagement with consumers and employees. Network for Good empowers corporate partners to unleash generosity and advance good causes. The blog celebrates that work and provides expertise and resources to help you do well and do good. Learn more

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