As I was listening to “Yes!” by Goldstein, Martin and Cialdini on audiobook, I was reminded of Albert Einstein’s quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” In most cases, the quote is valid.
We shouldn’t expect a new or different result from the same actions, though outside forces may cause a slightly different outcome at times.
But, what if we don’t know which action to change? If we send out an Ask Letter to donors each year, is new content different enough to change fundraising results? If we publish an advertisement, would a new headline bring in more donations?
Or, are we supposed to STOP both of these activities and move to something completely different to increase our fundraising?
Before you abandon these fundraising tactics, consider how reframing your content could impact your fundraising results.
What is your message driving people to do?
The book highlights several examples showing how content is framed makes a difference on how people will react. It is a natural tendency for people to want to do and be like others, so if the message promotes that others are performing a particular action, the viewers are likely to do the same.
In an example of a typical fundraising message, we might see a poster of small children in a remote village with the headline “These children go hungry every night, but 30% of American households give nothing. Will you help?” This message promotes the number of American households doing nothing. Therefore, the people seeing the message might also do nothing, because of the natural tendency for people to follow the “group.”
Are your messages promoting the action you desire?
Many scenarios in “Yes!” are tested by delivering content in three ways: framing content as a negative, neutral content (used as the control group), and framing content as a positive. In almost every example given, the outcome shows that people will do what it appears others are doing. If we use the example above, we might test three fundraising messages:
A) Negative Frame
These children go hungry every night, but 30% of American households give nothing to help the children. Will you help?
These children go hungry every night. Will you help?”
C) Positive Frame:
These children go hungry every night, and 70% of American households have given to help the children. Will you join?”
Given that people desire to do what others are doing, the negative frame, as we discussed earlier, might result in more people doing nothing, a neutral frame could see people donating at their normal rate, and the positive frame could potentially increase the number of donors (they want to become part of the 70%). The change in language might seem subtle, but the fundraising results could be significant.
If you are interested in more subtle changes that could improve your fundraising results, you can start by asking questions and gathering new ideas. Then don’t forget to sign up for invitations to the Masters Circle.
The Masters Circle is where we gather each month and answer your fundraising questions and share fundraising strategies tailored for your cause. Maybe you have an asking success story to share? We’d love to hear it! Be sure to get on the list now, the next session is next week. We’ll see you there!
Photo source: Hunger