Born to Help? How to Engage Altruism to Advance YOUR Cause

Born to Help How to Engage Altruism to Advance YOUR CauseI wasn’t surprised to read about yet another high-priced study confirming that altruism is innate in today’s New York Times (covering the just-published Why We Cooperate).  After all, we read time and time again about the emotional benefits of giving. So it makes sense, evolution-wise, that we’re wired to help and give.

But the article does make me wonder how we, as nonprofit communicators, can best work to engage this innate quality? If we become more selective about the focus of our helpfulness at age three, as researcher Michael Tomasello asserts, then how do organizations competing (and that’s the reality) for donations and volunteer time steer prospective supporters towards their nonprofits?

My take is that humans can truly help only when they understand the problem and the goal, and that kind of true understanding is fairly rare. That’s where we as communicators can step in — building awareness of the problem and our strategy to address it. Then, once that understanding is there, our charge is engaging folks to help by telling them what is needed and showing them the impact of that gift of time or money.

What’s your take? Add your perspective in the Comments box below please.

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Nancy Schwartz on December 1, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, People | 0 comments
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