I’m a collector. I collect red and white kitchen memorabilia, flour sifters, tablecloths and fundraising appeals. I also tell my clients to become collectors (but just of the last item on my list!). I ask them to collect only appeals that demand their attention and cause them to give. After all, isn’t that the true measure of a fundraising appeal’s effectiveness?
I encourage them to ask everyone in their organization (other staff, board members, volunteers) to share winning appeals with them. Then I ask them to share the successful appeals with their team and endeavor to tease out what it is about these appeals the recipients find so irresistible.
Figure out what works; then copy it! After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
This is a great exercise for you and your team, and over the next several posts I’m going to suggest some things I find common to the most successful fundraising appeals. Ask these questions of the successful appeals you’re reviewing. Let’s begin!
Does the Appeal Give a Reason?
Why do Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion go to see the Wizard? Because, because, because, because, because! Because of the wonderful things he does!
Why do kids do as they’re told? Because Mom or Dad says: “Because I said so!”
Is “because” a reason to give? Absolutely!
Those of you who read my blog regularly know I’m a huge fan of Robert Cialdini, author of the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In it, he outlines a number of principles of influence that affect human behaviors. One of the most interesting studies he describes is one by Harvard in which participants were asked to try to cut in line to make copies at a copier. Other people were already in line, but no matter.
First the participant asked politely: “Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” 60% of people allowed them to cut the line.
Then the participant said: “Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” Would you believe 94% of people let them go first?
It doesn’t even matter if the excuse makes little sense. Because guess what happened when the participant tried to cut in line by asking, “Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?” Still, 93% of people agreed.
As a trigger for acquiescence, the word “because” increased the success rate by over 30%.
Personally, I find this freaking amazing.
I thought my Mom was crazy when she said this to me. Who knew there was method to her madness?!
What a gift this is to you when crafting your nonprofit fundraising appeal! And it requires very little of you besides a simple tweak to your current prose.
“Because” in Your Appeal Letter
What about your fundraising letter? Let’s say you begin with:
“Today I’m sharing Amelia’s story with you.”
How might you tweak this to make it more compelling?
“Today I’m sharing Amelia’s story with you because she needs your help.”
More gripping, right?
“Because” in Your Response Device
What about your reply card or remit envelope? Let’s say it goes like this:
“Yes, I want to give.”
How could you tweak it?
“Yes, I want to give because children need me.”
More compelling, right?
“Because” in Your Email Appeal
Let’s say your e-appeal “ask” goes as follows:
“Please consider a gift of $500.”
How could you tweak it?
“Please consider a gift of $500 because children need your help.”
More persuasive, right?
“Because” in Your Donation Landing Page
Let’s say when folks click on your “Donate” button they’re taken to a page that says:
“Provide a meal to a starving child.”
That sounds pretty good, but how might you tweak it?
“Provide a meal because children are starving.”
This might not seem to you that it should make a difference. But according to Cialdini’s research, it does. “Because” is one of the persuasion principles that help explain the psychology of why people say “yes” without thinking. Sure, you can get a yes without using this little tip. You can get people to think and consider your appeal and still make a contribution.
But if you can boost your chance by 30%, wouldn’t that be a very smart thing to do?
You’ve still got time to do some tweaking before the end of the year. Let me know if you do it, and how it works out for you. Happy fundraising!
Get More Year-End Tweaks
Get the most out of this year’s holiday giving season using my Year-End Fundraising To-Do’s and Checklists. It’s a “Cheat Sheet” to make sure you’ve got all your ducks nicely lined up and you’re not missing a few tweaks that could mean a big difference in your results. I promise you’ll more than make up the $17 bucks you spend — or I’ll make a donation to your nonprofit to assure that you do! Grab it today!
I’ll give you another word that gets donors to give in my next post. Subscribe in the box below to make sure you get it! You’ll also get a free gift — and you can always unsubscribe at any time. My feelings won’t be hurt.
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