How to harness social proof in fundraising

People like to do what they know other people are doing. This simple fact can boost your fundraising results, as noted by Wired Impact, at What is Social Proof? 7 Ways to Strengthen Your Marketing with Proof:

  1. Strength in numbers. Make it clear that a lot of people are taking part in the campaign. “Join the many others in the community who are stepping up to help.”
  2. Map it out. Show on a map where your donors are.
  3. Community testimonials. Ask donors to talk about why they give. They often say it better than you can! And it’s social proof to others that giving is cool.
  4. Share impact stories. Stories can help donors see themselves in the lives of the people you serve.
  5. User-generated content. Ask donors not only to tell you why they give, but to do things like take photos or create memes that show their support.
  6. Peer-to-Peer campaigns. Encourage donors to recruit their friends and contacts.
  7. Celebrity and expert endorsements. Our minds perceive celebrities as acquaintances. That’s what gives them power over our thinking. If you have celebrity supporters, get then to talk about it.

Here are two additional ways to put social proof to work. In my experience, both are effective:

  1. Localize your message. If you raise funds nationally (or internationally) use the donor’s city name in your message: Join the [Cityname] campaign.
  2. Progress toward the goal. The old “progress thermometer” shows donors that they are working together toward a goal that matters.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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