BELCHERTOWN, Massachusetts — Trying to raise money for an organization, no matter how noble the cause, can often be difficult.
People don’t want to donate for many reasons. Sometimes they don’t trust or know of the organization and may not have time to research its legitimacy.
Another reason people don’t donate is compassion fatigue. Former Army psychologist Bret A. Moore says this is “when [people are]seeing the same problems repeatedly, when they’re chronic, and when the outcomes are not good.”
Images of poverty stricken communities from all over the globe saturate daily news sources. From TV to online journals, the average person hears or reads about serious social ills that seem never ending.
All this causes compassion fatigue and compassion fatigue can inhibit the amount someone is willing to donate.
But what if there was psychological research that explained a way to counter compassion fatigue and other reasons why people might not donate?
There are a studies that show how a person can become more “persuasive.” If these techniques are developed it may be easier to get people to donate money to honorable charities, like those trying to end global poverty.
This is not to be thought of as tricking people into donating money, it is simply an attempt to increase one’s power of persuasion. Here are a few fundraising hacks that anyone can use to help a noble cause.
Governments have spent billions of dollars trying change the public perception by using negative ad campaigns. Take smoking for example, images of rotting lungs are used instead of highlighting the whiter teeth one could have they didn’t smoke.
A recent study may contradict the idea that scare tactics work. J. O’Keefe and Jakob D. Jensen found that “there was a slight persuasive advantage for messages that were framed positively.”
This may only be one study but positive messages definitely seem like the happier choice. Stick to the positive facts about decreasing global poverty and people might feel better and more inclined to donate
Compelling stories may be easier for people to understand than endless statistics. People enjoy stories because they become entranced by them, they become engaged and “transported” into the story.
PSYBlog says that more than just becoming engulfed by the story, the “higher the emotional and semantic content of a story, the more likely it distracts people from the persuasion attempt.”
Create an in depth, emotional story about individuals affected by poverty and the listeners might just be persuaded to take action.
Seeing the same message or idea over and over again makes it familiar. When something is familiar, people tend to accept it as truth. This can be for better or for worse, as some people use repetition to alter the truth.
In terms of charity fundraising however it simply means don’t give up. Keep repeating the positive affects of donating and soon your prospective donors will begin to believe that donating really is important.
Interestingly enough, caffeine makes humans susceptible to persuasion. This is because without caffeine, people aren’t often paying attention. However with caffeine, arousal is increased and information is processed in a more comprehensive manner.
Therefore, fundraising events should be supplied with lots of coffee!
Don’t Make Too Much Eye Contact
This might sound counter-intuitive but a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science showed people were less likely to be persuaded when intense eye contact occurred.
This is because too much eye contact can be seen as aggressive and dominating. In an adversarial situation people may become resistant to persuasion. When talking to a potential donor remember to be direct but not too aggressive.
Science changes at a rapid pace, new studies are always being published. It is possible that the advice in this article on increasing one’s power of persuasion may not be relevant tomorrow—but it doesn’t hurt to try them out and see which ones might work.
For more ideas on psychology of persuasion click here
– Eleni Lentz-Marino
Sources: NY Times, PSY Blog
Photo: Catholic Youth Ministry