In Part 1 of this article I encouraged you to make this the year you begin to study psychology and apply it more to your integrated development (marketing and fundraising) strategy. I shared with you an infographic developed by marketing strategist Gregory Ciotti that some of the psychology underlying human behavior. Because there’s a lot for nonprofits to learn and apply, I’m taking you through them one by one. Today let’s complete the Top 10 list.
6. Make Their Brain Light Up Instantly
People are wired for instant gratification. And as true as that ever was, it’s even more so today in the digitally revolutionized age we’re in. If you don’t get folks attention right away (as in the first two seconds) you won’t get it at all. Plus, if you make folks wait for something they are likely to think, think and overthink. This will likely not be beneficial to you.
ACTION: When your donor makes a gift, send them a prompt thank you. Strive for no more than a 48-hour turnaround. This lets your donor know (1) you received the gift, and (2) you deliver on your promises. It enables them to trust you. And trust is a necessary precondition to establishing a lasting relationship. Need help? Grab my 48 Hours: Your Donor Acknowledgement Solution Kit.
ACTION: When your donor takes any asked-for action, acknowledge their contribution. There’s little point in being active on social media – asking supporters to retweet your posts, put things up on their Facebook page, pin things to their Pinterest board, and so forth – unless you’re going to respond in kind. Socially. Thank them for what they did. Respond to their comment. Follow up with a report on the outcome of your survey, quiz or contest.
7. Make an Enemy
Research from social psychologist Henri Tajifel shows how human beings unite in loyalty to their “in group.” Of course, this requires that there be an “out group.” Hence, as an example, the Mac vs. PC ads. Nonprofit folk tend not to like to label others as “enemies,” so think of this as a branding exercise. You are different from your competition. Describe how this is so, and why it’s a good thing.
ACTION: Make a list of your top competitors for donations and consider how you are different from them. For example, Cancer A Charity is a direct service and support organization; they note that Cancer B Chairty only does research. They don’t help people directly. They don’t have boots on the ground. That’s why Cancer A Charity is a better choice. Cancer B Charity would flip this around to show supporters they are at the forefront of cutting edge research, while Charity A only provides band-aids. This becomes less about being mean-spirited and becomes more about labeling, as discussed in Part 1 of this two-part series.
ACTION: List the ideals and values for which you stand. Make those who stand for antagonistic ideology the “enemy.” This is an exercise in creating a “unique selling proposition” – which is as much about spelling out who you’re not as who you are. In essence, you “label” yourself as being about addressing root causes, not curing symptoms. Or being holistic, not focusing on just the patient but the entire family.
8. Stand for Something
You do need to spell out who you are too! One study found that of customers who expressed a strong relationship with a particular brand, 64% said it was because of the values they ascribed to that company – which they shared. One example is Tom’s shoes which has a loyal customer base who like the fact that for every pair of Tom’s they buy Tom’s donates a pair to someone in need in an underdeveloped country. You need to figure out what your organization stands for; then… sell it!
ACTION: Embrace your role as a salesperson. Your entire job as a development professional is to express your values; uncover folks who share those values, and then facilitate an exchange that enables donors to act on their values – which happen to match yours. Fundamentally, fundraising is a value-for-value exchange. Selling (the very definition of which is to exchange or deliver for money or its equivalent) is something that you’re constantly doing. A donor gives something of value (money or an in-kind good or service) and the charity returns something of value to the donor. As Daniel Pink writes in To Sell Is Human “the ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives. The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaption to the merciless world of commerce. It is part of who we are.” Stop thinking of “selling” as an evil word.
9. Devil’s Advocate
According to research by social psychologist Charlan Nemeth (and his colleagues), the role of devil’s advocate plays an important part in persuasion. The research shows that when people are confronted with someone who truly appears to oppose their position, they begin to try to understand the other person’s point of view.
ACTION: Make a list of the reasons donors have given you to not support your nonprofit; create an FAQ that addresses these hesitation head on. I used to do this as an insert with my annual fundraising appeal. It addressed such questions as “How much do you receive in umbrella funding?,” “What percentage of my gift goes to overhead?,” “Do we really have poor people living in our community?” and “Aren’t many homeless by choice?” The interesting part about playing the devil’s advocate is not so much that it dismisses a few donor’s apprehensions with answers (which it can do), but that it solidifies the fervor with which your current donors support you. By bringing up (and subsequently dismissing) reasons for hesitation, donors become much more confident in their level of comfort in supporting your cause (which can result in upgraded gifts).
10. Keep ‘em On Their Toes
This one is my absolute favorite. It relates to the top reason customers become repeat customers — the social construct of reciprocity. Even better, research shows that the act of surprise reciprocity is supremely powerful. Psychologist Norbert Schwarz found in a 1987 study that it doesn’t take much to start the process of reciprocity; even the smallest of favors allow goodwill to be bought with customers, increasing loyalty and retention. In fact, in another study by Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he noted that subjects were prone to rate others as much more likable when they had simply bought them a can of soda.
ACTION: If you want gifts you must give them. Create positive “wow” moments to delight your supporters. Thank them more than once, and more than one way. Send little greetings. Make thank you phone calls. Offer little token gifts of appreciation. Acknowledge folks publicly; praise grows in a group setting. Don’t just do the traditional donor honor roll listings. Connect with donors on social media; fan them, follow them and favorite them. Show you care about them for who they are (folks who share your values), and not just for their money.
Which of these 10 persuasion principles do you think you could best use to attract, retain and upgrade more donors? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, below.
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