Archive for “October, 2014”

#GeekReads: 5 Quick Reads that Made Us Smarter

Happy Halloween from Wonder! Here are this week’s #GeekReads – including how your gross-out factor can predict your political ideology.

Story as burnout prevention. How “I-returned-from-the-brink-of-burnout” stories can help prevent it – helping us to remain passionate and successful in the midst of frustration and exhaustion. Includes other sage burnout-prevention wisdom.

Turning over a new leaf…for 30 days. Why we love 30-day challenges to change our behaviors – a chance to reflect and experiment with different habits to see which will work best in our lives.

Is memory-making decision-making? The same mental processes that organize memories may also coordinate how we make decisions.

The problem with positive thinking.  Figuring out the balance between positive thinking and “realism”.

GOP=Gross Out Party? Subconscious reactions to gross images indicate how conservative or liberal you are. Lesson: Probably not a lot of conservatives watching The Walking Dead.


Image: flickr/Su–May, CC BY 2.0

#GeekReads: 5 Quick Reads that Made Us Smarter

This week’s #GeekReads also include a few things to look at and watch.  

Our brains on curiosity. Curiosity not only makes us more interested to learn, but more likely to remember what we’ve learned.

The nature of human nature. The you that you think you are (identity) and the you that we think you are (reputation) are explored in the new documentary, The Science of Personality.

Science needs stories. Storytelling has been squeezed out of science. A doctor says stories improve judgment and is advocating for a return to storytelling in science.

Creatures of habit. “When a habit is formed, the brain stops fully participating in decision-making.” There are ways to cue your brain’s autopilot mode and to create positive habits.

The art of ideas. Peter Durand of Alphachimp, the lead scribe at this week’s PopTech, translated people’s presentations into pictures.


What’s been feeding your inner geek this week? Tweet us your #GeekReads at @WonderForGood.


Image: flickr/Stephen Pakbaz, CC BY-SA 2.0


#GeekReads: 5 Quick Reads that Made Us Smarter

Here are this week’s reads that made us smarter. Tweet us more #GeekReads at @WonderForGood.

Millennials are shaping giving. Saying “investment” instead of “donation” inspires Millennials to give despite their mistrust of nonprofits and charities.

Social math changes behavior. Because we have no concept of calories, it’s more effective to post that it takes 50 minutes of running to burn off a soda rather than 250 calories.

Put a graph on it. When readers see a graph, it produces a “scientific halo” — making information more believable.

Turn out for what. Complex voting systems designed to prevent tampering are so user-unfriendly that even college-educated, savvy voters have a hard time casting ballots.

The antidote to death by PowerPoint. No one does storytelling better than Pixar, and now they’ve shared their rules for what makes a great story.


Image: flickr/Loren Javier, CC BY-ND 2.0

5-Step Fundraising Appeals That Get Dollars

Stories have incredible power: They open closed minds and are scientifically proven to stick with us longer than facts. But can stories deliver the goods when fundraising?

Over the past few months, we’ve worked with some of our clients here at Wonder to answer that question. Together, we pioneered a story-based formula for fundraising appeals that we put to the test in the field. Did the formula bring in the dollars? Keep reading to find out.

The Five-Step Formula for Direct Fundraising Appeals

Whether you’re crafting an email or arming board members with cocktail-party asks, there is a formula to follow. Our brains have evolved to respond to stories. Once our brains are primed, then we’re more open to hearing the ask. So how do you put this into action?

Step 1: Open With a Story

  • Highlight a challenge and how your organization helped to overcome that challenge.
  • This elicits the empathy necessary to prime people to give.
  • Keep the story short; focus on the drama as the characters struggle to meet the challenge.

Step 2: Briefly Cite Other Examples of Success

  • Now that you’ve elicited empathy, it’s time for donors’ logic to kick in.
  • Highlight one or two facts that show that your success extends beyond this one example story.

Step 3: Articulate a Higher Moral Meaning

  • What’s the broader moral or value your story and examples represent?
  • Maybe it’s a message about our common humanity. Or, strong communities need art because it reflects our shared struggles — and aspirations.

Step 4: Ask Them to Own the Vision 

  • This is the point where you ask them to donate. But beyond asking them to donate, you are asking them to join — or own in — making your organization’s vision a reality.
  • Ideally, segment your list between low donors ($5 to $100), mid-level donors (250-$500), and major donors ($501 – $5,000).
  • Always offer a range: “Would you make a donation today for $25, $50, $100, or whatever you can afford?”

Step 5: Thank Them

  • Thank them for their consideration. You’d be surprised how many organizations don’t say thank you enough!
  • Let them know that you cannot do what you do without donors.

Did the Dollars Come In?

Back in July, we applied this formula in partnership with one of our clients for a major fundraising campaign. With an entire week left in the campaign, they more than exceeded their goals:

Campaign Goal: $80,000

Campaign Stretch Goal: $96,000

Dollars Raised One Week Before Deadline: $101,500

What other story-based tactics have worked in your direct fundraising appeals? Let us know in the comments. Extra credit: Read more about how to write successful newsletters.


Image: flickr/Steven Depolo, CC BY 2.0

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