I’m a huge fan of a too-little used tool when it comes to fundraising. It’s called behavioral neuroscience, and it’s pretty awesome stuff.
Moms use it all the time without evening thinking about it. Moms. Just. Know.
I’ll bet you even use it yourself. Unconsciously.
But what if you could use it intentionally to persuade prospective donors to say “yes” to investing in your cause? Or to give more often or with greater passion?
Today we’re going to talk about one foolproof way to get donors — and anyone — to do what you want them to do.
And it’s as simple as Mom saying “Because I said so!”
The Power of “Because”
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 reported by Harvard Magazine 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 “do this because I said so” 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.
How to Use the Power in Your Fundraising
“Because” in Your Appeal 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
Let’s say your reply card or remit envelope includes this common sentence:
“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 Miguel is starving.”
This might not seem to you that it should make a difference. But according to Cialdini’s and others’ research, it does.
Use Neuroscience Principles to Persuade Donors
As much as you might like to believe that human behavior is the product of rational, calculated thought, it’s often quite the opposite. Sometimes people’s behavior is mindless. Folks will respond more to the familiar framework of a request, within reason, than to the content of the actual question.
“Because” is one of the persuasion principles that help explain the psychology of why people say “yes” without thinking. The human brain is wired to react when it hears because. It is a magical word — an automatic trigger for compliance. 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 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 what you spend — or I’ll make a donation to your nonprofit to assure that you do! Grab it today!
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