I don’t mean as a group or as an idea.
I mean as people. Do you like them?
Your instinct may be to back away when I say “sales”. That’s not what we do, right?
It is what we do, really. Just a special sort of sales. And what we can learn from sales success can often be applied to acquiring and engaging donors.
This article was about Cialdini’s principle of liking.
Here are Dr. Cialdini’s 5 factors that power the principle of Liking, via Referral Candy:
- Physical attractiveness – Good looks suggest other favorable traits, i.e. honesty, humor, trustworthiness
- Similarity – We like people similar to us in terms of interests, opinions, personality, background, etc.
- Compliments – We love to receive praises, and tend to like those who give it.
- Contact and Cooperation – We feel a sense of commonality when working with others to fulfil a common goal.
You’ve probably sensed this principle at work already. Sales people know it, and use it. Get the customer to like you and you’re more likely to make a sale. It’s rare you buy something from a crabby salesperson, right?
But there’s something new.
As Dooley writes, “Cialdini’s new book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, adds a new dimension to the liking effect. He reports on research showing that if you are hoping to influence someone, it’s even more important that they believe you like them.”
People like you when they believe you like them.
That’s why I asked about your donors.
It, it makes perfect sense. If you believe someone thinks well of you, you’re much more receptive to a conversation or some kind of relationship. If you think someone doesn’t think much of you, that potential relationship is dead in the water.
Before I write another word, I want to be clear: I am absolutely not suggesting you fake this. Dishonesty has no place in our sector and profession.
What I am saying is that seeing your donors as individuals, and connecting to your respect for them, might help you raise money.
Think about it. If a good friend asks you to give to her pet cause, you’re not likely to say no. If a stranger made the same request, you would feel no such obligation.
When you feel liked and respected, you’re more willing to entertain a request.
It’s a matter of trust – but it’s also a matter of rapport.
It shouldn’t be that hard. These are people who also give to a cause you care about. You have that in common. And by itself, that’s not nothing.
But you should be going a little further. Sometimes, your rapport with a donor or donors isn’t there to begin with.
It’s true for all of us: some people are easy to like, some are not. And as a group, your donors might sometimes frustrate you. All that work!
But that’s unproductive. And it will wear you down, as well.
It’s much better to look for the best.
Yes, that donor complained that her name was spelled wrong. But that means she actually cares enough to notice and ask you to notice. That’s a good thing!
Yes, you were the recipient of an angry phone call. But what a great chance to test your diplomacy skills! (I liked to make it a game – could I turn things around during the call?)
And always remember that while this is your job, this is their choice. And they are choosing to support your mission. That’s important.
So how do you show people you like them?
When you meet a donor in person, what you share is a great place to start the conversation. “What caused you to give to our organization the first time?” There’s a whole conversation there, waiting to happen – even if you’re not an extrovert.
I’m no extrovert, which is probably why I’m more comfortable writing than talking. But I’ve always found (OK, almost always) that when I do have a chance to speak with someone, it’s easy to find common ground. It’s easy to see them as people, not prospects.
Of course, it’s also easier if you’re good at listening well. Really hear them. You’ll probably find your body language mirroring theirs.
Genuine interest and attention are very flattering – especially in these days of microscopic attention spans.
On the page
When we write to donors, we want to sound friendly and conversational. Because it’s easier to read, yes. But also to establish the right tone: not formal and distant, but two people (reader and writer) with shared passions.
You can also stress this connection. Instead of “here’s why I think you should give”, try “I know we both care about this work”. You’ve just moved it from a transaction to a common commitment to a cause.
Another word about donor-focus
Of course, this ties into the conversation we’ve been having about donors and their place in the nonprofit ecosystem. If you need another reason to think well of your donors, this is it. We all respond well when we’re treated well.
If your organization needs to raise money, then actually liking the people who offer to support your mission is a good idea. Showing them you like them is an even better idea.
Next time you’re feeling exasperated with your work, take a breath. Refocus on your humanity. Consider what your supporters care about – and why your mission moves them. Remember that you have something powerful in common.
What’s not to like about that?
Photo by Ryan McGuire at Gratisography