9 Valuable Shortcuts to Influence Nonprofit Donors
Successful nonprofit development (both fundraising and marketing) is all about persuasion. One of my favorite books is Daniel Pink’s "To Sell Is Human." His premise is that we’re all in "sales" on a daily basis. Whether it’s simply trying to get your kids up and out the door in the morning or persuading your boss to give you a raise, you’re constantly coaxing people to induce a specific desired behavior.
Scientists have studied how to do this effectively, and it behooves you to follow their lead. I always look to two places for inspiration: (1) Robert Cialdini (tried-and-true psychologist), and (2) neuromarketing (cutting-edge behavioral science).
Six Universal Principles of Persuasion
First espoused in "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini, these principles are key to assuring your favorite social benefit organization will reap the affluence it needs to live well and prosper. The essential keys are:
1. Reciprocity—People tend to return a favor, thus all those annoying address labels that charities send out as a fundraising ploy. They work.
2. Liking—People easily are persuaded by other people whom they like. You want your champions spreading the word about your cause among their friends and families.
3. Scarcity—Perceived scarcity fuels demand. “Only four memberships are left” prompts action!
4. Authority—People will tend to obey authority figures. I recently watched a video of a well-dressed man in a suit jaywalking. Everyone on the street corner followed. When he wore a sweatshirt, no one followed. That’s the principle of authority at work.
5. Social Proof—People will do what other people are doing. That’s why it’s great to show who is taking action for your cause—others are likely to conform.
6. Commitment and Consistency—If people commit to an idea or goal, they're more likely to follow through. It’s why pledging is a great option for people who aren’t ready to take action.
Each principle is a map of sorts—a guide down the path toward “yes.”