How to make people give a sh*t.

Cyn Mobley
4 min readSep 26, 2021

Triggering cortisol is the best way to start any fundraiser.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Look, I’m not a neuroscientist. I’m not even a biologist. I’m a lawyer, and I’m probably using half these words in such an imprecise way that if you ARE a neuroscientist or biologist, you’re going to be running screaming for your Skinner Box right about now.

But roll with it, okay? They’re labels for the concepts I’m addressing.

There are two steps for getting someone to give a shit about your worthy cause. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the why of it all.

Here’s the thing about charity — it’s rooted in the instinct for self-persevation. Underlying all charity is reciprocity. You help me when I’m hurt, I’ll help you when you’re hurt.

Reciprocity = tribe = increased odds for survival.

A threat to one is a threat to all. When you perceive a threat, your cortisol kicks in and creates a sense of urgency.

Chemical structure of a cortisol molecule

It’s ingrained into us. What matters most is survival and the absolute best thing to increase your individual chance of survival is to be in a tribe so you can band together.

You scale that “together our odds are better” instinct and you get the modern-day organized charity group. But no matter how big it gets, a true charity hasn’t left its roots that far behind.

So. That’s what you have to tap into.

The thing you want people to care about has to be a member of your Tribe. It can’t be an inanimate object. It needs a face.

Some of your potential donors will have done the work for you. You show them a parched desert, they’ll see Mother Earth wounded with cracks on her face. Show them a desecrated mountain, they’ll see her wounds.

Photo by Paul Macallan on Unsplash

It’s NOT just an intellectual understanding of the impact of a drought or plundering mountains, though that may be there as well. They feel, on a deeper level…



Cyn Mobley

Attorney, CA & TN. Retired naval officer and black belt in Isshinryu. Generally peaceful. Blogs at