I read an article in the New York Times about the U.S.’s struggles with low voter turnout. One point made was that an experiment showed identity mattered more than action.
In a pair of experiments, psychologists reframed voting decisions by appealing to people’s identities. Instead of asking them to vote, they asked people to be a voter. That subtle linguistic change increased turnout in California elections by 17 percent, and in New Jersey by 14 percent.
This article also looks at the research. It’s interesting stuff.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
If being seen as a voter is more compelling than voting, should we be stressing our donor’s identities as generous supporters more than the act of giving?
While we’re used to thinking of verbs as the words that do the heavy lifting, in this case, it makes sense.
Giving isn’t so much about money as it is about feeling – feeling good about yourself, feeling less guilt, feeling helpful instead of helpless.
And let’s be honest: while we watch our income carefully, donors don’t want to be loved for just their money. (Do you?)
So their identity – as a kind person, a generous person, someone who cares about the world – is something we really should stress.
Your identity matters to you – a lot
Another piece mentions the same point about our language. But it uses identity to illustrate another powerful motivator: the need to belong.
I’ve written about persuasion and neuromarketing before. The need to be part of a group is a basic human drive.
We are ultimately social animals, and our desire to connect with others is a strong, innate drive. We’re not meant to live alone, and we’ll work hard to be socially accepted. We need to feel that we have a place in the world where we belong.
Give them a reason to belong
There’s a good reason most organizations set giving levels. They help donors choose what they should give – based on where they feel they belong.
They can also give donors an idea of what their gift will do (if you connect giving levels to specific impact).
So yes, dollars are one way to give donors groups to belong to.
But don’t stop there.
Donors groups created around interests could be a powerful way to strengthen relationships. Donors would have a strong feeling of belonging
Donors would have a strong feeling of belonging to a group. And if you offer social opportunities, that sense would be enhanced because of the donor to donor relationships that develop.
But your organization would benefit from those strong ties – because those ties would be so connected to your work!
Also consider one of my favorite donor groups: those that recognize loyalty.
These are the best! Because they don’t depend on rewarding only those with significant money to spend. They reward those who stay with you, year after year.
I found events – even one a year – for this group were very successful. And, to be honest, enjoyable for the staff.
Imagine spending time with regular people who care as much about your organization as you do. And who may have interesting stories from before your time.
Of course, none of this is to suggest you manipulate people into giving. Trickery isn’t the way to go – it’s a short road.
But helping donors feel good about themselves? Priceless!
Photo thanks to Mistyrules0123, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.