These principles are well documented, and can be incredibly useful to fundraisers.
Even someone inclined to support your cause may not give unless you push the right buttons.
A new infographic visually makes the point that, while technology advances, human triggers remain constant.
Here are five triggers — with a few suggested strategies (I’m sure you can come up with more) — to use these principles in your offline and online relationship building with prospective supporters:
1. Social Proof
When folks believe their peers approve of you they’ll be more likely to approve of you as well. It’s a built-in decision-making shortcut.
Offline tips: Invite prospects to events where they can rub shoulders with their peers. Better yet, ask your current board and committee leaders and existing donors to invite friends to attend with them. People will more likely say “yes” to people they know and like. At the event, have current supporters give testimonials as to how they first got involved with your organization and why they continue to support you. In other words, have them show your new guests why they are very much like them.
Online tips: Ask current supporters to “talk” about you in their personal social media channels (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, G+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest) and to share your e-newsletters and blog posts with friends via email and social media. Carry supporter testimonials sprinkled throughout your website, and even on your LinkedIn profile (e.g., “This is the greatest investment I ever made. The staff really knows what they’re doing and they use my money wisely. I know it goes directly to help people in need and I always receive reports demonstrating the impact of my giving.”).
2. Loss Aversion (also known as the Scarcity Principle or ‘FOMO’)
When folks believe they’re going to miss out on something they are wired to do anything they can to avoid this loss. They want more of what there is less of. Scarcity adds value.
Offline tips: Create a sense of scarcity. Send an event invitation that offers an intimate, exclusive meeting with someone desirable; note that space is extremely limited and that it’s first come/first served. Perhaps mention that previous events sold out. Or let appeal letter recipients know that the first 100 $1,000 donors will get plaques with their names on the new theater’s chairs and that they won’t want to miss this opportunity to receive this permanent recognition.
Online tips: Note that the first 25 people who retweet your advocacy alert will be entered into a raffle to win a prize from your sponsor. Or suggest that everyone who pins a photo of themselves wearing or displaying anything with your name on it will be eligible for a prize.
The human brain compares subsequent options with the one that came first and uses this as a means to get the best deal.
Offline tips: Secure a one-to-one matching grant for this year’s appeal and say “This year your $100 goes twice as far!”). For your event, consider doing the opposite of what most nonprofits do. Instead of increasing your event ticket prices this year, get a larger venue and a sponsor and reduce the price. Then point out that you’re thankful to the sponsor for making it possible for folks to attend this year at a discounted rate.
Online tip: Offer a bonus to folks who subscribe to your newsletter (e.g., a tip sheet, reading list or recipe booklet that’s somehow tied to your mission) so it’s now a ‘deal’ to sign up.
4. Foot in the Door
Folks are social creatures bent on creating and sustaining social bonds. If they’ve said “yes” to you once they’re more likely to do so again to demonstrate their consistency and commitment. Smaller “yeses” turn into larger ones.
Offline tips: The simplest thing you can do is remind folks they’ve given to you (or attended your event… or volunteered… or signed your petition) in the past. When folks are reminded they’ve already gone through this decision process they’re more likely to do the same thing again. Truly, donor cultivation is all about the “foot in the door.” You guide prospects through a series of “moves” or “touches” that request gradually increasing levels of commitment.
Online tips: Begin with asking for “likes” and “follows,” but don’t stop there. You’re after engagement that will convert folks to desired actions. So once they’ve said “yes” to following you, ask them to retweet you or share your video. Then ask them to do something else, like take a pledge or contact their congressperson. And so on. In between these asks, be sure to provide them with valuable content so it’s not all about you.
Folks inherently trust authority figures. These may be folks perceived as experts on a subject or as having social status.
Offline tip: Invite respected authorities to attend your events and address the crowd. Caveat: These should be folks who are truly admired, and not politicos who will attend any and every event at the drop of a rubber chicken thigh.
Online tips: Establish your organization as a thought leader in your field by initiating discussions on platforms like LinkedIn and G+. Include your staff’s credentials in listings on your website, and perhaps include a short bio of each of your senior staff. Link to published articles and research papers written by your staff. Seek out influencers in your community or area of work and expertise; ask them to promote your content.
If you use these principles they will significantly increase the likelihood that your constituent’s response to your call to action will be “yes.”
Do you have tips for using principles of influence to persuade folks to say “yes?” Please share in comments, below.
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Photo: Flickr, Ross Burton