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#47: How to advance your donor’s hero story with Dr. Russell James

A picture of Dr. Russell James

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Good fundraisers know that stories work better than statistics, that characters work better than calculations and that whoever tells the best story wins. 

Still, we sometimes neglect the donor’s personal story…the story they are writing with their life. And if we start to understand that story, and those characters, it might lead to transformation gifts. 

But how do you advance your donor’s hero story? What messages will resonate? 

Today, we are talking to Dr. Russell James, about how to do that. 

Dr. James is a Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Charitable Financial Planning at Texas Tech University. In our chat, he gets into his research and insight on how a donor’s story affects their giving. You will leave our conversation with clarity on how to best serve donors through their story and encourage donor generosity.

Today we’ll cover:

  • [03:41] – Why Dr. James wants to study the brain as it does estate planning and charitable giving    
  • [06:26] – Enhanced Identity: The value fundraising brings the donor    
  • [12:04] – Identity, Challenge, Victory, and the donor’s story
  • [18:17] – Why the donor’s hero story is most effective when fundraising    
  • [23:08] – Not all types of gifts tap into the hero story in the same way 
  • [29:50] – Delivering the victory to your donor    
  • [37:50]- The gift is not the victory in your donor’s hero story    
  • [39:22] – Understanding the value of different assets from the donor’s perspective    
  • [46:11] – Russell’s encouragement for nonprofit leaders and fundraisers    


Get connected:

Dr. Russell would love to connect with you. You can find him on LinkedIn, where he would love to provide all his research and resources for free. 

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