3 social proof techniques that signal donors to give more

It can be tricky to upgrade donors, but the truth is that most donors would probably give more if they’re asked with social proof.

According to research, if donor’s think their gifts are lower than those of others, they’ll tend to give more. There’s a conformity effect at work.

In addition, donors want to feel that they’re giving their fair share. So if they think they might be doing less than that, then social proof can influence their gift amount.

What’s more, donors assume that a charity asking for and getting larger donations is a higher-quality organization, much like a bigger price tag on a TV says “better.”

With this donor psychology in mind, how can we build support with social proof? In one study, researchers told donors calling into a public radio station fund drive that the previous donor had just given a gift of a certain amount, and then researchers asked the caller for his or her gift.

When the amount of the previous gift mentioned was at or above the average gift, donors tended to give more. And when that amount was among the highest donations received, donors tended to give still more. Social proof was at work.

We can use this learning and adapt it for the copy in our appeals. Here are three easy things to try.

  1. In the body copy, you can include a simple line like, “Many of our supporters are giving $XX3,” right before the ask. Of course the $XX3 amount would be one of the higher amounts in the string relevant to that donor – a gift upgrade. As in the public radio fundraiser, this simple line of copy can provide the social proof that signals what the appropriate gift amount is.
  2. To reinforce this approach, you can add a circle around that same dollar value in the gift string on the response device, with wording like, “many donors give this amount.” This technique alone often increases average gift, but when combined with the line of copy described above, it can be even more effective.
  3. Since social proof tends to work best when the right action to take is unclear, you can try increasing the number of gift handles. Instead of the usual three or four, the gift string can be increased to eight or ten gift handles, presenting donors with a broader array of choices, while of course highlighting the preferred amount .

These three techniques are subtle and simple ways to incorporate social proof. They’re easy to do and just might produce a bump in average gift. Why not test it in your next appeal?



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1 Response to 3 social proof techniques that signal donors to give more

  1. Linda Lukehart says:

    Great post! I’ll use this on my next project.

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