The Evil Plan Behind Gaining Human Compliance
For 26 years as Turnkey's CEO, I have been charged with getting people to do stuff.
The most easily measurable form of my work is my effort to get volunteer fundraisers to ask other people for money for my nonprofit clients. The way I do that is to use the human desire for recognition to elicit a behavior.
My scope of work for clients kept broadening until one day I realized that desire for recognition was a much more powerful motivator than I had originally thought. And, I realized that the same human inclinations work in the other parts of my life in which I need to get people to do stuff — leading a company, raising teenagers, serving on boards, trying to buy big-ticket items for less ...
I began to consult with a neuropsychologist, Otis Fulton. Together, we started digging in to social science research to help understand peer-to-peer fundraising specifically, and human motivation in general, to inform Turnkey's work. Our most recent whitepaper on the psychology around motivation is available here.
Here are the basics, taking you the reader as my target of compliance (cue evil laughter):
- I can't educate you into compliance. I have to get you to comply and then gain your belief.
- Once I get you to take an action, you have a bias for consistency that will help you continue to comply.
- You have an internal, or intrinsic, label for yourself. I have to first know what it is, then make a plan to change it.
- Once I get you to self-label in the way I want, I then need to supply ways for you to affirm your new belief.
- People, including myself, have no idea that our own decision-making works this way. It is almost all unconscious.
Seeing my world through these psychological filters yields a different type of decision-making. Most decisions are cherry-picked. "What can I execute?" as opposed to, "What will work?" Let's take an example.
Katrina VanHuss is the CEO of Turnkey, a U.S.-based strategy and execution firm for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Katrina has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded the company. Turnkey’s clients include most of the top thirty U.S. peer-to-peer campaigns — Susan G. Komen, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the ALS Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as some international organizations, like UNICEF.
Otis Fulton is a psychologist who joined Turnkey in 2013 as its consumer behavior expert. He works with clients to apply psychological principles to fundraising. He is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit messaging. He has written campaigns for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, The March of Dimes, the USO and dozens of other organizations.
Now as a married couple, Katrina and Otis almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism, and human decision-making – much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.
Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P, Peer to Peer Forum, and others. They write a weekly column for NonProfit PRO and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising." They live in Richmond, Virginia, USA.