- You can raise a lot of money very quickly appealing to negative emotions.
Our physical and psychological responses to negativity are powerful motivators. In the short term, we will act when scared or irritated or hostile. We will respond. This is why money can be easily raised by using what are called, negative frames. We tend to focus far more on negative information and it sticks with us more durably than positive information. Doom, gloom, and sympathy trolling work in fundraising.
The problem, however, is that these powerful responses to negative information, over the long term, cause harm. Sustained fear, anger, hatred, sadness, etc., tears us down systemically. When we consistently frame the world negatively, we experience weakened immune systems, increased risk for heart problems, high blood pressure, depression, ulcers, cardiovascular damage, and memory impairment (to name just a few).
In other words, we end up broken, individually and collectively.
The other message choice is to use positive frames. Instead of scaring people based on all the bad that could happen if they don’t give, positively framed messages focus on an optimistic future emerging from their support.
Positively framed messages may not garner the same initial easy fundraising results as negatively framed messages, but they make up for it over the long haul. In fact, consistently embracing hopefulness, faith in the future, and optimism strengthens our immune systems, decreases our risk for heart problems, lowers our blood pressure, decreases depression, leads to fewer gastrointestinal problems, better cardiovascular health, and other positive benefits.
In other words, we end up healthier, individually and collectively.
Yes, framing the positive takes more work than riling people up. It’s harder to do. And, it may not be as effective in the short-term. But, it is the only sustainable path to building a more healthy, educated, just, peaceful, and generous world.
If your aim is to build something that endures for good, invite people to respond to messages of faith, hope, and love.