Recruiting supporters for fundraising campaigns combines strategy, authentic relationship building, and throwing yourself in the path of opportunity. Most of all it requires being able to influence and persuade people to support your cause.
What you may not know however, is that your capacity to influence and persuade, to motivate people to act, originate from 6 universal principles. These principles were pinpointed by Psychology and Marketing expert Robert Cialdini who wrote a popular book, Influence: Science and Practice, about this in 1984 and marketeers have been living by it ever since.
Once you are aware of them, you’ll spot them everywhere. You can apply them to make a connection, strengthen a bond, stand out, persuade people to support your cause and even fundraise for you.
The principle of reciprocity means that when someone gives us something we feel compelled to give something back in return. We learn when we are very young that giving helps us get on in life. Share the blocks and you can build a bigger tower together. Buy Sally a pint of beer and and she’ll probably buy you one back. That’s reciprocity.
Reciprocity is most powerful when the gift is unexpected and costs the giver something in time, energy, or other resources. It’s doing a good deed not because you have to, but because you want to. It’s Love Theory in action: Build your “Love Bank” account and your relationships will compound in value over time (and good relationships lead to supporters).
If you want your followers to share what you publish, you should share the relevant, content that they publish. You should also use your social media accounts to publish or link to content from around the web in addition to your own content.
As well as building relationships and encouraging an environment of sharing it is also likely to increase the number of people following you as you become a source of content from across the web for information within your area of expertise.
The principle of commitment and consistency says that people will go to great lengths to appear consistent in their words and actions – even to the extent of doing things that are basically irrational.
That’s why if you’re trying to make a change in your life – losing weight, for example – it can be very helpful to state your goal publicly. Once you’ve committed out loud (or online) you will have much more incentive to keep up your end of the bargain. So how does this apply to fundraising?
If a supporter has already decided to do something little for a cause, they are more likely to do something big later on, so build on that initial commitment.
This requires having a clear communications plan to support that relationship, build trust and create long term supporter relationships by building on that initial commitment. Remember to remind them of the commitment and support they have given to your cause.
Get them to share their support publicly and commit to it through social media and online blogs. Write articles that celebrate the work of your fundraisers, interview them and promote them publicly and share their messages when you can.
We tend to feel more open with people if we share some kind of bond, because we are social creatures. Maybe we went to the same university, are interested in the same hobbies, or lived in the same country once.
We tend to feel more open with people if we share some kind of bond. This is why brands spend so much money on celebrity endorsements. They want some of that love and adoration you feel for Leonardo DiCaprio to be associated with their range of watches, to somehow become likable by association. Mostly they want you to connect with their product in the same way you connect with your heroes.
Of course not all charities have the luxury of celebrity endorsements, especially small charities that are often forgotten about, but whats better than being likable by association? Well, being likable for being you!
Building a relationship with your supporters is incredibly important. You need to be experts in building relationships and making people feel that you care about them and that they are valued. You need to be that great person they want to help on a personal level.
Have you ever found a restaurant where the staff were really rude and obnoxious but you loved the food so much much that you went back there again and gain anyway? No, me either. No one likes to be insulted and no one wants to be around people they don’t like, much less help them.
If you really care about and like someone you are more likely to support their cause. This is the reason that peer to peer fundraising is so successful as it allows nonprofits to utilise the personal connections of their supporters to raise money. The fact is that people are more likely to make a donation for someone they know and like. The same goes for recruiting people to fundraise for you.
4. Social Validation
The principle of social proof is connected to the principle of liking. We tend to like things just because other people do as well, whether we know them or not. Anything that shows the popularity of your charity and support for your cause can trigger a response.
This is why the use of social referrals are becoming so explosive with the emergence of the +1 that highlights friends recommendations in Google search results and the rise of Facebook as an advertising medium.
So tell people how many people have supported your cause, write stories about them, curate and share social media messages of support from fundraisers and advocates. Make sure that your pages have links to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ so they can tell their followers the yard supporting your cause, and make sure you add these to your thank you pages!
You probably heard about the Milgram experiments, where subjects gave fatal electric shocks to others just because someone in an impressive outfit told them to. It is freaky, but it is true.
For me personally this is the most worrisome concept, perhaps because of my instinctive rejection of compliance to authority. We should all question the things we do and what we are being told. Even so, I do think it is important for nonprofits to build authority within their communities.
To my mind there are two types of authority. There is the authority inherited through association, for example by being a government institution, or endorsed by an official body and there is authority that is earned through reputation.
I think that particularly in the current climate where the public lacks trust in nonprofits that building trust, building your reputation is essential. People don’t have an automatic trust in the work nonprofits do anymore, they question where their money goes, if it is wasted or actually leads to benefits, so you need to prove what you do everyday through your communications.
With potential supporters, mention your experience, show them what you have achieved. Let them know that you are effective by showing them tangible outcomes, demonstrate your achievements. Bring them into the story that is unfolding around your work everyday.
The terrible fact is that we have been trained that things that are rarer have more value than things that are common. People tend to be motivated by the thought that they might lose out on something. As such things that are scarce are perceived as more valuable than things that are plentiful.
Once, like diamonds, amethysts were considered to be rare jewels that were highly valued. Then when huge amounts of the purple jewels were discovered in Brazil amethysts were no longer considered to be precious. The beauty of the stone may not have changed but but they suddenly became less desirable as their perceived value diminished.
Using these theories marketers often promote or even fake the scarcity of an object or information to increase desire and so make them appear to have more value. This is known as scarcity marketing.
This may seem the hardest concept to apply to nonprofit fundraising but actually there are nonprofits and people who fundraise who use the idea of scarcity all the time. One such individual is AJ Leon. As contradictory as it may seem he limits the number of supporters allowed sign up to fund raise for the humanitarian projects he works on each year.
The scarcity of places creates urgency and motivates supporters to take action. It also adds a feeling of value by creating a sense of ownership and belonging. People who have been accepted into this special group feel connected to each other and the cause more intimately.