Human beings crave knowledge about where they stand in relation to other humans. Social proof guides our attitudes and behavior. Most often, we use this information to move toward the norm we perceive.
It’s a bit of psychology that can have a lot of impact in your fundraising.
Here’s an interesting use of social proof in fundraising from the Seattle Humane Society
Our average gift is about . That gives the potential donor a piece of social information. A target. It’s interesting that it then goes on to suggest an amount just under the average. I assume they arrived at that through response testing. If not, they should test suggestions of and just above .
A simpler and more common version of this is to circle one of the ask amounts and add a handwritten note, something like “Many people give this much.” (Though in recent rounds of testing, I’ve found this not to be very effective. It may have becoming overused.)
Your donors crave knowledge about where they stand. You have some of that information. Share it!
The KISSmetrics blog recently posted 7 Things You MUST Understand When Leveraging Social Proof in Your Marketing Efforts. Social proof — giving people a sense of how they compare do other people — is powerful in any kind of marketing.
Of those seven things, I want to focus on one: Negative Social Proof is Horrible for Persuasion.
The classic study on negative social proof was done at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. People were stealing petrified wood.
To discourage theft, different signs were displayed, one of which said:
Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, destroying the natural state of the Petrified Forest.
When this sign was up the amount of theft tripled. By telling people that many visitors steal, it was making the case that stealing was normal. That made the bad behavior easier for more people. There would be less stealing if the sign made people believe that removing petrified wood was the rarest and most pitiful of actions taking only by the worst of losers, of which there are fortunately few.
We are often tempted to use negative social proof in fundraising. It’s usually statements like these:
- Nobody gives to support this cause, so please give now.
- Not enough people are doing their share, but we hope you will.
- Hardly anyone cares about our cause, except for you.
That’s the equivalent of saying giving to us is a deviant behavior.
The way to use social proof correctly in fundraising is to show potential donors that there are many other donors. That giving to us is a thing lots of people do.
Tell them how much people give. How often. Why they give. How much they enjoy giving. Show pictures of donors. And quotations.
That’s how social proof can power your fundraising. Just don’t go negative!