Does an "empathy gap" exist among your donors?

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

A lot of charities tout the fact that they take care of their own.
Marines helping marines!
Cancer patients helping cancer patients!
And so on.
But could doing so be a misguided marketing strategy?
Research from a study published in December 2014 showed that compassion for distress actually became reduced among people who have “been there.” In other words, according to the study, having ‘been there’ doesn’t necessarily mean you care.
At MarketSmart, we’ve seen this among our clients’ results. Donors who never served in the military have been more likely to give bigger donations and even make planned gifts when compared with armed forces retirees. Family members and friends of cancer patients have been more likely to give, make bigger gifts and leave planned gifts when compared with the patients themselves..
Our evidence is anecdotal of course.
Frankly, I hadn’t even thought about it much until I read this study. Then I began to realize that, perhaps, the empathy gap should be considered while selecting donors for outreach and engagement.
Could it be true that the people who experienced the same hardship as those now needing donations might be less likely to respond to requests for support?
What do you think? What have you found in your efforts? 

Related posts:

>> A Bit of Empathy Might Be the Best Marketing Strategy
>> Empathy Vs. Perspective…Which One is Better?

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