6 Principles of Influence to Motivate Donors

1269028016_9b06086aaa_zTo move people to action you need to understand what motivates their decisions.

At Impact, we often refer to Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six principles of influence to help us write persuasive fundraising copy. Here they are:

RECIPROCITY – People return favors.  Yes, it’s true – that’s why you are getting all those address labels. When you give people something, they feel an obligation.

COMMITMENT AND CONSISTENCY – If people commit, they will honor that commitment. This basic concept is what makes renewals so successful, and why it’s important to remind people of their previous support in your appeal.

SOCIAL PROOF – People are inclined to do things when they see others doing it. It’s the bandwagon effect. This is why donor profiles are effective and language such as, “Many people have already decided to join us.” Social proof seems to be particularly important for planned giving donors.

AUTHORITY – People tend to obey authority figures. A letter from a perceived expert or person of influence can go a long way towards persuading a donation. This is why appeals from celebrities often work well.

LIKING – People are easily persuaded by other people they like. This is why it’s important to use a known signer for your appeals, someone your donors have gotten to know and believe in. Social media has only reinforced this—people respond to other people they perceive as likable.

SCARCITY – People are more likely to buy something if they believe it will no longer be available. “Only 3 days left to have your gift matched.” Deadlines create urgency and donors respond—especially at year end.

Fundraising communications are all about influencing donors to give, so I suggest you keep Dr. Cialdini’s principals on hand and refer to them regularly.


-Posted by Kathy Swayze, CFRE @impactkathy

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