Good thing Bryce isn’t in charge of design.

One of my earlier posts was called The Elephant in the Room: What Your Corporate Donors Aren’t Saying (But Want To).

So I thought I’d stick with the animal theme for this post.

Social proof is a powerful, powerful tool. It’s one of the most overlooked aspects of donor recognition, and one of the reasons we recommend starting a donor wall when the donations start coming in, instead of waiting until the end.

Take this excerpt from KISSMetrics:

Positive Social Proof is More Influential than Saving Money.
In a fascinating environmental study published in the Washington Post, researchers examined the effectiveness of signs (yet again!) on persuading customers to use less energy in the summer by turning on fans instead of air conditioning. Before we get into the results and implications, check out the 4 types of signs they tested:
Sign #1: Informed the customer that they could be saving $54/month on their utility bill.
Sign #2: Told customers that they could prevent the release of 262 pounds of greenhouse gasses every month.
Sign #3: Encouraged customers that saving energy was a socially responsible thing to do.
Sign #4: Let customers know that 77 percent of their neighbors were already actively using fans to save energy.”

Guess which sign had the most impact? Sign #4.

Let me repeat that: social proof is so powerful that those studied valued it over saving money, the environment, and their social responsibility.

How are you leveraging social proof for your current campaigns?

Here are our 5 best ideas for using social proof in a fundraising campaign. Some apply to large capital campaigns or specific campaigns, some will apply to year-round, and some both.

1) a counter on your fundraising page that shows how many people have donated so far. If you can segment, that’s even better (for example, if you have an ad campaign targeted at a certain location or IP address, saying “over 300 U of C students have donated so far” could be great social proof for that group).

2) thank donors on your social media, and ask them for a quote about their story (maybe with a picture). We resonate with people like ourselves — so give it a shot!

3) draw attention to members of a specific organization and their donations. You see this tactic in telethons all the time — ‘Mike from Edmonton donated $50 and challenges all police officers’. You better believe that more police call in than without that message.

4) start your donor wall early on in a project. This serves a few purposes: it lets you spread the investment out, show social proof, and also offer an extra little incentive that’s easy-to-see.

5) publish more donor stories on your websites. Use media. Not only will this tug at heartstrings and show your organizational impact, but it will show, again, how a person just like them is making sacrifices for the greater societal good.

Monkey-see, monkey-do. So let’s turn that monkey business into money business, with the power of social proof.

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